written and published by Nadia ten Hove

Berlin Atonal, the pioneering festival that seamlessly blends experimental music with progressive art, is set to make a triumphant return to Kraftwerk Berlin in September 2023. This marks its first full edition in over four years, and the anticipation is palpable as the festival extends its duration to cover 11 days, including two full weekends. This expansion enables a broader array of new commissioned works, world premiere performances, artistic interventions, and after-show programs. The festival’s metamorphosis into a biennial event will also see its next large-scale iteration in 2025 and continue every two years thereafter.

Originally held across various venues throughout Berlin from 1982 to 1990, Berlin Atonal played a significant role in merging emerging experimental music with Europe’s avant-garde art scene. It helped shape Berlin’s reputation as a hub for cutting-edge experimental culture. The festival was revitalized in 2013 under new directorship, establishing its residence in the expansive 8,000m² former power plant. Over time, Berlin Atonal has solidified its status as Europe’s premier festival for high-concept audio-visual shows, site-specific installations, and world premiere collaborations in music, performance, and video. The festival’s works elicit a sense of liminal disorientation, particularly in the vast expanse of its venue.

Berlin Atonal 2023 marks its comeback since 2019, during which it curated transformative projects such as the Metabolic Rift exhibition and the acclaimed X100 festival dedicated to composer Iannis Xenakis. Now, the festival returns to its fundamental mission of producing and presenting large-scale musical performances and artistic projects that contribute to the forefront of cultural discourse. The festival’s expanded format also affords organizers the opportunity to build upon insights gained from previous projects and explore new ways of engaging with artists and audiences.

The musical program for Berlin Atonal 2023 promises an impressive lineup that offers festival-goers an insight into the monumental weekends ahead. This edition will showcase a selection of exclusive commissioned works and premieres, distributed across six significant concert nights split into two weekend blocks.

A decade after its re-launch, Berlin Atonal continues to shape experimental culture in all its forms, and this edition represents its most diverse and ambitious project yet. The festival redefines the conventional music festival, pushing its boundaries into uncharted territories.

The festival passes have already been snapped up by eager attendees. However, passes for the 3-day weekend concert and club night programs are still available, along with individual day tickets and access to the Universal Metabolism exhibition and concerts.

The concert program for the first weekend unveils a remarkable lineup. On the opening night, Laurel Halo guides the audience through a journey of noir fog atmospherics, followed by Holy Tongue’s mystical dub-dance performance. Other highlights include Rainy Miller’s evocative “A Fugue State” and a special collaboration from Caterina Barbieri, Space Afrika, and visual designer MFO. The aftershow sees Eros, a night world of dense bodily mutation, curated by Regis and Liam Andrews.

The second and third nights feature awe-inspiring performances from Sandwell District, Venus Ex Machina, and the Shackleton, Waclaw Zimpel, and Siddhartha Belmannu collaboration. These artists collectively challenge musical norms and immerse the audience in emotional dynamism.

The final weekend continues this journey, with standout acts like Christian Love Forum, CORIN, Carmen Villain, and Loraine James. These artists push the boundaries of sound and performance, captivating attendees with their unique sonic landscapes.

In addition to the concert program, Berlin Atonal offers an immersive exhibition titled “Universal Metabolism.” Running parallel to the festival, this exhibition challenges the creative limits of the Kraftwerk megacomplex. Through audio-visual works, performance art, in-situ sculptures, video installations, and immersive sonic environments, the exhibition delves into the bodily and extra-bodily cycles of exchange, reconstruction, and transformation. As visitors navigate this space, they’re immersed in a constant state of change and fluctuating intensity, challenging preconceived notions of static art.

Berlin Atonal’s return signifies more than just a festival; it’s a convergence of avant-garde expression, a platform for the exploration of the unknown, and a celebration of artistic innovation. The festival’s commitment to pushing boundaries and fostering meaningful artistic connections solidifies its place at the forefront of Europe’s experimental culture. Berlin Atonal 2023 is an experience not to be missed for those seeking to engage with the leading edge of art and music.

For the full program please visit the website: https://berlin-atonal.com/