The Sun Machine Is Coming Down

Berliner Festspiele

Press release from 9 September 2021

The Sun Machine Is Coming Down
Art in the ICC

With “The Sun Machine Is Coming Down” the Berliner Festspiele are opening the International Congress Centre (ICC) for ten days, which has been unused for years, and will bring this futuristic architectural icon back to life with Berlin-based and international artists featuring new and adapted art from the fields of performance, circus, music, film and installation.
The press preview is on Thursday, 7 October 2021 at 11 am. The ICC will be open to the public from 4 pm. Advance ticket sales started today, 9 September 2 pm.

This project initiated by Thomas Oberender and curated by a team, follows the principle of simultaneity as it was intended with its architectural design by Ursulina Schüler-Witte and Ralf Schüler. Visitors encounter the gigantic conference building freely during their 3.5-hour visit and experience, either announced or spontaneous elements of the live art programme as well as permanent screenings, concerts and installations.

The permanent programme includes screenings of the Julia Stoschek Collection shown in a loop in hall 1, the largest hall of the building: these works, created between 1978 and 2018, question the relationship of human beings to their own bodies and the position of the body in social structures. Be it the hyperreal avatar in the work of Ed Atkins or the dancer on the streets of Guangzhou in Cao Fei’s work, the creators of the selected video works are united by their faith in the power of resistance that is found in simple poetic gestures. Another hall that showcases a daily accessible programme is in cinema hall 3 which provides insight into 70 years of Berliner Festspiele history on the occasion of its anniversary. Using around 1,000 hours of film material from public and private archives, Thilo Fischer and David von Stein restored more than five hours of images and sound, and used them to assemble three video works that bring unite news, discourse, and art. In addition, Thilo Fischer curates a film programme with recordings of extraordinary concerts, performances, actions, reports, and conversations, all in full length. Hall 2 is also programmed almost continuously, where music curator Martin Hossbach, together with international and Berlin-based musicians, including Alexis Taylor, Nazanin Noori, The White Screen, Rosaceae, and Tegel Media, explore the compatibility of architecture and sound in the ICC with an expanded music programme of concerts and lecture performances.

In the lower foyer, visual arts and acoustic installations are accompany visitors on their way into the ICC: there, Markus Selg has filled ten glass cabinets with scenarios of future and archaic realities that flow into the large space in light choreographies and sonic worlds from the sound installations by Richard Janssen. The self-organized group Floating University Berlin, active since 2018, is shaping discourse by testing biodiverse forms of coexistence. Its culture of conversation and ideas has been temporarily relocated to the upper foyer of the ICC with a variety of talk formats, while the Spider Walks initiated by Studio Tomás Saraceno provide a look at lives pushed to the margins. The connection of very old knowledge with new needs can be heard here – a focus also placed by the artist Joulia Strauss with sculptures, installations, and discursive séances. These explore the further thinking of the media theory of her famous teacher Friedrich Kittler as she, together with additional companions, mediates the daily scheduled séances in hall 6 like journeys of the soul to Friedrich Kittler in honour of the tenth anniversary of his death. Artificial and human intelligences come together in Monira Al Qadiri's and Raed Yassin's permanently accessible installation in the middle foyer with three kinetic busts whose AI voices tell of the artists' bizarre experiences and dreams during the coronavirus pandemic. Ayaka Nakama also celebrates the boundary between the grotesque and the magical on the other side of the upper foyer in the botanical world of her four-hour solo “Freeway Dance” in which the earliest memories of dance she has collected with her friends and family become the embodiment of the dance itself.

An additional focus is art from the fields of dance and circus, the latter curated by Wolfgang Hoffmann. Performances in the water cylinder and qigong on the forecourt of the ICC at the traffic junction Messedamm, repetitive circus exercises and dancing Styrofoam on the landmarked 1970s carpet in the ICC lounge located at the rear of the foyer, balancing on a centring below the mechanically moveable grandstands system of hall 2 that weighs several tonnes. Chloé Moglia, Jörg Müller, Darragh McLoughlin and Andrea Salustri as well as Alexander Vantournhout, Grace Ellen Barkey and Tino Sehgal, reinterpret the spatiality through counter gestures. In their physically poetic and circensic narratives, the power of activating space as polytopias through movement is made visible. Space is the basic condition of this narrative because it marks and defines that world from which the artistic parallel worlds literally move away. In doing so, they play with conditions that are constantly threatened by failure – flying, dreaming, emptiness, transformation, illusion, and transposition.

With works by Monira Al Qadiri & Raed Yassin, Arachnophilia & Studio Tomás Saraceno, Ed Atkins, Grace Ellen Barkey / Needcompany, Dara Birnbaum, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Cao Fei, Floating University Berlin, Cyprien Gaillard, Barbara Hammer, Arthur Jafa, Richard Janssen, Ilya Khrzhanovsky & Ilya Permyakov, Scott King, John Carroll Kirby, Lawrence, Gordon Matta-Clark, Darragh McLoughlin, Chloé Moglia, Jörg Müller, Ayaka Nakama, Nalan, Nazanin Noori, Ulrike Ottinger, Khien Phuc, James Richards & Leslie Thornton, Rosaceae & Natascha P., Rachel Rose, Andrea Salustri, Tino Sehgal, Markus Selg, Joulia Strauss, Alexis Taylor, Tegel Media, Unguarded, Alexander Vantournhout / not standing, WangShui, The White Screen and many more.

The full programme is available here:

Press images can be found here:

The programme varies daily, time-slotted tickets and their respective programme vary accordingly. Time slots cannot be booked for individual performances.

We cordially invite you to the press preview on

Thursday, 7th October 2021
Press briefing at 11 am, followed by an open tour
Registration from 10 am
ICC, Neue Kantstraße (main entrance), 14057 Berlin

With Thomas Oberender, Director of the Berliner Festspiele und initiator of the project as well as selected participating artists and the curatorial team.

Please register until 1 October via Bureau N:
or by telephone +49 30 62736104

The Sun Machine Is Coming Down
7.–17. October 2021
ICC, Neue Kantstraße, 14057 Berlin

Tickets from today, 9 September 2 pm

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Friday, 4pm – midnight
Saturday, 2pm – midnight
Sunday, 2–11pm
Monday, closed

Press Contact
Bureau N
Katharina Neumann, Malte Bündgen