The NYC-based collective brings its irony-infused, post-internet-dominated approach to the Berlin Biennale, kicking off June 4.
Among other unorthodox projects, Lauren Boyle, Solomon Chase, Marco Roso and David Toro have co-founded the web-based DIS Magazine, along with DISimages – probably the only stock agency with high-res photos of mermaids lounging around on their laptops – and even an online store called DISown that offers Slavoj Žižek workout shirts and bedazzled lingerie sets designed by Amalia Ulman. And the idiosyncratic approach doesn’t stop there. For BB9 they’ve brought together artists, writers, DJs and designers, be they established or barely starting out, in a show more about contradictions than any biennale has ever dared. Over email, the group collectively gave us an inside scoop on curating BB9, and how their work seeks to ﬁnd structure within chaos.
Why curate as a collective?
DIS was born out of friendship. For us, there’s a kind of synergy in compromise and disagreement. Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni and Ali Subotnick, who curated the fourth Berlin Biennale, were a kind of collective – they had been doing Wrong Gallery together, for example. It’s in the DNA of the Biennale to alternate in extremes. Each one is vastly different, and we admire that.
Your programme has subcategories called Anthem, LIT and, curiously, Not in the Berlin Biennale – what can we expect there?
We see the Biennale as hyperlinked thinking in action. Not In The Berlin Biennale includes a group of artists, artworks, videos and imagery that are not in the Berlin Biennale, but simply in front of it. Like a skin, it protects the vital organs of the exhibition and is also the largest organ of all. Anthem is an album of collaborations between artists and musicians, like Kelela with Adrian Piper and Elysia Crampton, or Total Freedom and Isa Genzken. And LIT is a show within a show at the Akademie der Künste that adopts the codes of a duty-free shop: large-scale light boxes exhibiting images by a range of individuals. Each artist becomes part of a single aesthetic flux — a Hunger Games of visual competition.
What makes this Berlin Biennale different?
There’s a palpable tension in politics, news and social media right now, signalling shifting perceptions, and a bubbling recognition that we’re beyond return. We’ve been interested in individuals who are able to coagulate these liquid moments into something comprehensible. It’s a process of materialising logic out of chaos. DIS has a speciﬁc audience, and with the Berlin Biennale we’re looking at ways of capturing an accidental audience beyond the biennial circuit. We’re interested in art that is accessible on multiple levels. We wanted to intercept a non-art-world audience in a very physical way – by using a tourist boat as a venue, for example.
Jun 4-Sep 18, citywide, see website for details