PERSISTENCE, 20 years of CTM Festival Berlin


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Historically Berlin has been a great example of persistence and continuance in spite of difficulty. Precisely Persistence is the theme of this year twentieth iteration of the CTM Festival. The first and expected event of the year of this kind focussed on experimental music, avant-garde sound, and visual arts kicks-off today Friday, January 25th. Until next Sunday, February 3rd will host more than 70 events —exhibitions, installations, performances, concerts of noisy sound, notorious punk or experimental music, and daytime discoursive talks— at several venues around Berlin.

Since its early days, CTM Festival has featured music and art acting as a mirror for social and political conditions, hence the 2019 edition, celebrating its 20th birthday of existence and persistence —quoting the title—, CTM examines the aesthetics, societal potentials and pains of perseverance together with its opposite, the ultra contemporary transience, provisionality and the ephemeral.


Music and art today are based on continuous searching, open-ended experimentation, pluralisation, and speculation: listening, critical discussion, and analysis are part of the process. Art and music are a vehicle of subjective feelings, personal experiences, empathy, the imaginary, and desire, that is why music and art can provide us with methods to move towards new horizons: an attempt to think of collectiveness, community, and subcultures. CTM 2019 brings together a big number of actors and initiatives across music, culture, and technology to foster open and pluralistic structures.

2019 Exhibition: Persisting Realities

The exhibition constitutes the official opening of the festival at Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien and features artists fighting with our ever-changing realities consisting in same issues over and over again: hierarchies, power struggles, structural change, and conservatism and its resistance to change. The text of the four curators proclaims that there are no stable positions to take and that a myriad of trajectories and momentums create a restless world where the population is driven to deal with the Sisyphean chore of moving ahead while searching for that stable positions and meanings.

Responding to uncertainty and flux, the artists of Persisting Realities hypothesise, untangle, and imagine ways of persevering trying to find answers to questions like how might we cultivate joy, how do we find agency, and how do we locate or build common ground.

CTM 2019’s Opening Concert

Linn da Quebrada will present a live rendition of her audiovisual album Pajubá which takes its name from a language often used by the Brazilian queer community. Quebrada is known for making music that appropriates the often violent funk carioca genre to passionately fight transphobia and other political violence. She is a standard-bearer of the fight for space for those not often granted it. Linn da Quebrada and her crew of singers, dancers and instrumentalist will leave everyone shaking at the opening CTM 2019 at  HAU.

Before the Brazilian, Rabih Beaini and Tarawangsawelas will be performing their collaborative work initially commissioned by Europalia Indonesia and part of the Nusasonic initiative. Beaini, boss of label Morphosis, is known for his imaginative techno, and for combining voices in avant-garde electronic and international music. Tarawangsawelas is a duo from Indonesia, known for performing the sacred music from Sundanese West Java.

Concerts Program

The programme features a great number of artists that fight several political violence using their creative artistic practice performing across the city in venues as Berghain / Panorama Bar / Halle am Berghain / SäuleFestsaal Kreuzberg, Hebbel am Ufer (HAU1 and HAU2), Heimathafen Neukölln, Paloma Bar and SchwuZ.

Renowned DJ and outspoken feminist The Black Madonna and DJ Rachael, first East Africa’s female DJ and founder of the Femme Electronic together with Kristiina Männikkö, TSVI, BadSista, Saoirse, DJ AZF, Venetian Snares will take over Berghain/Panorama Bar on February 1st, with high energy performances. 

Fatima Al Qadiri makes a Berlin debut next to Deena Abdelwahed at SchwuZ on February 2nd, delivering a powerful performative rejection of transphobia and sexual conservatism.

A vast number of female, femenine, feminist and queer artists will perform, as the experimental producer, DJ, and visual artist Ani Klang, or Perera Elsewhere, Machine Woman and noise artist AJA. Joining the Nusasonic initiative are Marta Zapparoli and Sabine Ercklentz. The Liege-based four-piece Cocaine Piss and their mix of nihilistic punk, garage, riot grrl! spirit, and experimental noise, A Tribe Called Red, IC3PEAK and Gazelle Twin are also among the names.

The closing concert at Heimathafen Neukölln features the label and collective CURL (Brother May, Coby Sey and Mica Levi); the soulful, R&B influenced Tirzah; as well as Yves Tumor, known for his unpredictable live performances and provocative smooth sound.

Check the complete CTM Persistence program here.

CTM x transmediale

Continuing our critical exploration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the annual CTM x transmediale collaborative concert features the debut live AI/AV show from Actress + Young Paint on HKW Friday and Saturday.

Over the course of 2018, Young Paint the AI-based character has spent time programming and arranging Darren J. Cunningham (aka Actress) sonic palette, learning not only how to react to his work, but also to take the lead with the occasional solo. A life-size projection of Young Paint working in a virtual studio parallels Cunningham’s performance on stage, visualising their collaboration. Friday and Saturday night appearance will be a world premiere event at HKW Auditorium.

Audio-Visual Installations

The Mantis

Sonic warfare researcher Nik Nowak last work is The Mantis a two-tonne monumental sound sculpture that, in biomimetically hydraulic movements, stands up, preparing itself to do battle at four metres high. Nowak will premiere his new sonic giant against his earlier Panzer loudspeaker tank across a border fence, evoking the sonic wars that took place during the Cold War at the border of the two separated Germany in the early 1960s. Live musical interventions by Nowak and Kode9 & Infinite Livez, as well as video projections by Moritz Stumm, will complete the installation that will be located at Halle am Berghain.

The Other Citizen: Archive

Drawing from a range of self-organized communities and collective initiatives and histories, Brandon LaBelle uses The Other Citizen: Archive to attempt to give a narrative to instances of what Asef Bayat names “an art of presence”. A type of DIY citizenship to create networks of care and creative solidarities, forms of citizenship in today’s global environments, new practices of civic participation outside the identitarian politics of nationhood. The work functions as a speculative archive and experimental research focusing on forms of “floating citizenship” and the transitory communities that often arise in situations of struggle and resistance, festivity, and polyphony: a library of documents, writings, materials, and recordings capturing particular community histories, cultural positions, and theoretical works. The artist will be present throughout the exhibition period working on the archive through reading, recording conversations, and presentations with invited guests at the Projektraum located at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien.

Rundfunk Aetherna X

Rundfunk Aetherna X is a radio opera installation by Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag, consisting of a symphonic spatial re-composition of his namesake radio opera, which was commissioned for documenta14. This version deals with the first presentation of new acoustic omnidirectional radiators developed in Sonntag’s N-solab studio. The audience is invited to walk through a multi-dimensional listening space over seven days at Akademie der Künste.

Sparkling Sounds and more


CTM presents the premiere of Labor a collaboration that lasts almost two decades with seminal electronic label Raster including works by Robert Lippok, Byetone + Mieko Suzuki, Dasha Rush, Frank Bretschneider, and Grischa Lichtenberger in the inaugural edition of the piece. Artists use sparse hardware setups to craft perpetual, regenerating compositions. Berlin’s neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK) will host the inaugural piece. 


An 18×7 metres ice skating rink arrives at the Halle am Berghain, soundtracked by an array of artists performing their DJ sets. Bring your skates (or rent a pair) and practice your ice dancing skills. Check extensive program of Eishalle here.


The Berlin’s Center for Spatial Sound aka MONOM programme spans new virtuosic experiments in 4DSOUND, sound sculptures of past commissioned works by experimental music innovators, ending this second edition in an overnight extended listening session that offering multiple formats to engage with deep and multi-dimensional listening. Check extensive program of MONOM here.

Discourse programme

Taking place next to the main exhibition at Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien features threads such as Decolonising the Ear, (Re)Empowering the Music Ecosystem, Resilience, Political Narratives through Sound and Listening, and Resisting Fundamentalism, in addition to a MusicMakers Hacklab and Research Networking Day.

Non-western Collaborations: SET & Nusasonic

The newest and biggest collaboration to date is the Nusasonic initiative, dedicated to exploring how contemporary sound practices enable connections and dialogues between the Southeast Asian region and Europe, welcoming a large number of musicians and projects from that region at CTM 2019.

From Asia also comes SETan electronic music festival in Tehran. This collaboration started in 2016, when support from The Goethe-Institute helped to commission Sacred Horror in Design, a collaboration between Tehran-based artist Sote, and Berlin-based artist Tarik Barri, which subsequently led to the first showcase of Iranian electronic music at CTM 2017 in Berlin. 

CTM festival happens in parallel with main partner transmediale.

Check the complete CTM Persistence program here., January 25th to February 3rd, 2019.

Text: María Muñoz
Images: Courtesy of CTM Festival

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