“For me, a club is a big abstraction machine that constantly produces pictures. They’re often on the edge of the visible, when the fog rises and you look up toward the ceiling and watch the lights. Intangible things shimmer and flicker through there.”—Wolfgang Tillmans
After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, young squatters, artists, gallery owners, and DJs from East and West took over the city, filling empty buildings, factories, and vacant lots with life. Clubs, bars, galleries, and studios began popping up everywhere. The club and cultural scene became the driving force behind the city’s rejuvenation, pointing the way for a new generation of young creatives. And while techno was not invented in Berlin, what was happening in the city during this period at events like Tekknozid and in clubs like Ufo, Tresor, and Planet can be seen as a kind of “big bang”—the inception of the last major youth culture movement in Europe to date. The visual effects and new artistic approaches of Berlin’s club life occupied a boundary zone at the intersection of video, film, projections, and music. For many aspiring artists, the connection with art offered diverse possibilities for collaboration and new perspectives and spaces for communication, interaction, and celebration—outside the confines of reason and everyday life.
The Berlin club scene gained new momentum at the turn of the millennium. Cheap flights in Europe, together with a new wave of clubs like Bar 25, Watergate, and Berghain and parties that never seemed to stop drew increasing numbers of techno fans to the capital city. Artists, party promoters, and record labels from around the world moved to Berlin, bringing new influences to the city’s sound—a process that continues to this day. But today the spaces of seemingly infinite possibilities are narrowing, and the party appears to be coming to an end.
The exhibition project No Photos on the Dance Floor! Berlin 1989–Today documents the history of Berlin’s club scene since the fall of the Wall and at the same time brings that history to life. During the day the exhibition will showcase photographs, videos, films, and documentary material that offer insights into the evolution of Berlin’s club culture over the past thirty years. At night part of the C/O Berlin exhibition space will be transformed into a club. Surrounded by the pictures in the exhibition, visitors can dance the night away to a series of live performances by acclaimed DJs and sound and visual artists from Berlin’s club scene, both past and present, transforming the experience into art.
The title of the exhibition, No Photos on the Dance Floor, refers to a unique feature of Berlin’s club scene. While photography is a central part of nightlife in other cities, in Berlin, most clubs have strict rules against taking pictures. There are two reasons for this rule: to allow dancers to lose themselves in the music without distraction from cameras and to protect clubgoers’ freedom and privacy.
The exhibition was curated by Felix Hoffmann (Chief Curator . C/O Berlin Foundation) and Heiko Hoffmann (Guest Curator), and includes works by Camille Blake, Tilman Brembs, Ben de Biel, Salvatore di Gregorio, Martin Eberle, Matthias Fritsch, Dan Halter, Erez Israeli, Romuald Karmakar, Steffen Köhn, Tillman Künzel, Sven Marquardt and Marcel Dettmann, George Nebieridze, Alva Noto, Pfadfinderei, Mike Riemel, Carolin Saage, Giovanna Silva, Wolfgang Tillmans, Lisa Wassmann, and Michael Wesely.
C/O Berlin Foundation