No End of Time
Berno Odo Polzer on MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues 2021
We will be there – and we hope you will be there, too! After the short-notice cancelation of MaerzMusik 2020, after a memorable year with ever-changing landscapes of expectance and many contingency plans, we are braced for an exclusive online edition of MaerzMusik 2021.
Online Time is different, we are aware of it. The shared experience of live art in real time and real space is irreplaceable. But, MaerzMusik is determined to taking place, to staying live and open as a site of creation and encounter, of listening and thinking together.
This website is the place where many streams flow together: concerts, performances, films and talks – live or pre-produced – are connecting the physical locations of Haus der Berliner Festspiele, SAVVY Contemporary, Zeiss-Großplanetarium, silent green, Kammermusiksaal der Philharmonie, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Université du Québec à Montréal and many private apartments and studios around the world, where music, language and moving images are being created for this festival.
It is a remarkable irony, from the perspective of this Festival for Time Issues that last year’s edition on “The Beginning of Time” was canceled, only to merge with this year’s preplanned issue on “The End of Time”. After all, questioning and transgressing the normative framework of linear time bracketed by a beginning and an end has been one of the driving forces of the last six years. So here we are, at a point where beginning and end converge, thematically at least, in a present that unsettles our perspectives onto the future (and the past) in a breathtaking way.
Many of the projects presented at MaerzMusik 2021 are premieres – some are gifts of the very challenges and limitations we are struggling with globally. Starting with our opening project “Environment” that bears the traces of this ongoing pandemic in a remarkable way. Planned as the opening performance of MaerzMusik 2020, the musicians of the ensembles PHØNIX16 and Orquesta Experimental de Instrumentos Nativos (OEIN) from Bolivia got caught up in a nearly 3-months-long forced quarantine at Musikakademie Rheinsberg – an experience that changed the course of the project as much as the lives of its creators, generating an abundance of artistic works, a multimedia stage performance, documentaries, experimental films – that will be shown here for the first time (19. & 26.3.). A long-term collaboration with SAVVY Contemporary on the forgotten Egyptian-American composer, electronics pioneer, scholar and teacher Halim El-Dabh is bearing fruit in a series of evocative artistic projects many of which are commissions and first performances (20. & 23.3.). The brilliant and influential New York-based collective Bang on a Can produce a special MaerzMusik edition of their inspirational Marathon Live Online format – several hours of live concerts, flowing together from a multiplicity of artists’ flats and studios (21.3). French sound pioneer Éliane Radigue is the protagonist of a binaural live-stream featuring her seminal three-hour sound meditation “Trilogie de la Mort” from the cupola of Zeiss-Großplanetarium, accompanied by a newly commissioned film by French filmmaker Eléonore Huisse and sound artist François J. Bonnet. Together they visit their friend Éliane’s home in Paris in times of social distancing and lockdown to explore questions pertaining to solitude, imagination, retreat, the inner voice and temporality (22.3.). A concert by Ensemble Modernis in the center of a day dedicated to “Afro-Modernism in Contemporary Music”, curated by George Lewis alongside two panels that reflect upon Afrodiasporic Experimentalism and recent cultural issues around classic and contemporary music’s understanding of its identity and future (24.3.). A concert film, produced for MaerzMusik in Montreal by Quatuor Bozzini, presents the first performance of Jürg Frey’s hour-long new String Quartet No. 4. (25.3.). ensemble mosaik presents the film version of Manuel Rodríguez Valenzuela’s new work “time. cage”, a multimedia instrumental theatre that reflects, artistically, the time culture of our high-speed society (26.3.).
MaerzMusik’s grand finale, The Long Now, is a format in transformation. After the pandemic has expelled us from the beloved venue of Kraftwerk Berlin, we are reinventing the format into a 30-hour live-streamed experience of shared listening in which time itself can unfurl and senses of time can dilate into as yet uncharted patterns.
Thinking Together 2021 will happen live online as well. The festival’s discourse format is dedicated to the idea of “The End of Time” in its philosophical and historic dimensions as well as its current political, social and ecological ramifications. End time imaginaries flourish (anew) in a climate of fear, climate change, species extinction, socio-political uncertainty, and a global pandemic. Thinking Together will look at – and look beyond – the phenomenon of Apocalypticism as a position towards the world and the future. What lies outside the self-fulfilling prophecy, or spell of Apocalypticism, beyond the deeply rooted, defuturing expectation of The End of Time? What are the forms of knowledge and practices that show ways towards nurturing the future?
MaerzMusik 2021 experiments with what audiovisual online representation can do. We aim at providing variety in online experiences by employing a range of available technologies and approaches, from state of the art 360° camera and 3D sound technology, to regular single and multiple camera techniques, to everyday online-meeting-platforms. As far as formats are concerned, our programme consists of live-streamed concerts, audiovisual performances, lectures and talks, binaural audio streams as well as pre-produced concert films, music videos, documentary and other film formats.
We will be there, online – and we hope you will be there, too.
Berno Odo Polzer
Artistic Director MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues
About MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues
MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues sees itself as a venue for experiencing art and thinking about how we deal with time. Contemporary music is its centre and point of departure for an exploration of the nature of time in life, art and theory.