Graduale 16: No New Kind of Duck
7 ways of carving out space for conflicting realities

Graduale 16: No New Kind of Duck
7 ways of carving out space for conflicting realities

The Graduate School at the University of the Arts Berlin

Nienke Terpsma, No New Kind of Duck, 2016. Photomontage. © Nienke Terpsma.
October 3, 2016
Graduale 16: No New Kind of Duck— 7 ways of carving out space for conflicting realities

October 20–23, 2016

10178 Berlin

No New Kind of Duck is an exhibition by Ralf Baecker, Lizza May David, Jeremiah Day, Bjoern Erlach, Azin Feizabadi, Nuria Nuñez Hierro and Alex Martinis Roe, curated by Jan Verwoert. It is the graduale, the biannual showcase of the Graduate School fellowship programme at the Berlin University of the Arts.

No New Kind of Duck is about art and music that talk back to reality. It’s an exhibition by artists and composers who seek to get their hands into the way things work, so as to carve out spaces to which we could come and grasp how things can be done differently.

To make such a claim is to raise the stakes when the chips are low. Smart people today tell you that art and life alike are about knowing how to bluff. So if we all deal in decoys, we might as well get our ducks in a row and have the highest bidder pay for shooting them off. Le cynique, c’est chic. Agreed, what good is creative thinking when power bluntly shapes the world in its image? In 2004, an aide to Bush Jr. told journalist Ron Suskind: “We’re an empire now and when we act, we create our own reality […] and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” If that were still true, whoever put a big duck on the pond first, ruled the waters.

It’s hard to argue with bluntness. That doesn’t mean one has to accept imposed realities. The trick is to slip behind the back of what people treat as established fact—and delve into the depths of lived memory where the ghosts of traumatic pasts are as alive and active as the spirit of political change. The challenge is to pry open the cracks in the real, and reach down to the level below, where things are still volatile and hence open to change, so codes may melt into music, and conflicting forces can be brought to bear.

This is what the artists and composers in No New Kind of Duck set out to do. Alex Martinis Roe shows how the power of feminist initiatives employ and transform models of speech and action developed by women of previous generations. In his performances and installations, Jeremiah Day takes political inquiry beyond the limits of journalistic reportage: He pieces together alternative accounts of life in the United States from histories of communitarian experiments realized in small-town city councils, or biographies of GIs turned veterans against war. Enmeshed with sprawling marks, Lizza May David creates ecosystems of vibrant colours in her paintings. Documenting exchanges with botanist Ulysses Ferreras, she gives a sense of the rabid destruction resource mining brings to jungles in the Philippines. Composer Bjoern Erlach twists and bends algorithms until zeroes and ones, converted to sound via crude output devices, give alien life to musical forms. In a lecture performance Azin Feizabadi will present motifs from his forthcoming movie trilogy Uchronia. The film tells the story of two Dark Matter aliens, ghostly souls who must come to Earth to find host bodies that could incarnate their love for each other. In Nuria Nuñez Hierro‘s music-theatre piece Bestiarium, a haunted library becomes the site for forays into music’s potential to open up alternate realities. The audience, six years and older, is initiated into a world of experimental music by imaginary creatures materializing from the library’s books. Ralf Baecker constructs serene machines with surreal computational capacities. Fed with data from Geiger counters, one pulls webs of strings into changing wavetable shapes, another organizes grains of sands with a sensor-gripper, like a celestial crab doing math. They re-enact the birth of computing devices in the hands of alchemists tapping elementary processes.

So No New Kind of Duck will enter the deep archive of lived politics, propelled by a surrealist drive towards crafting different forms of life and art.


For programme details, please check our website.

The event is co-funded by Einstein Foundation Berlin.


The Graduate School at the University of the Arts Berlin presents Graduale 16: No New Kind of Duck

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October 3, 2016

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