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In-visible Realness

PS120, Berlin, 2019.

Co-curated with Justin Polera.

A collaboration with Elberskirchen Hirschfeld Haus – Queeres Kulturhaus Berlin (E2H)

Participating artists:

Alex Heide, Ariel Reichman, Carlos Motta, Christo Daskaltsis, Danh Vō, Doireann O’Malley, Ileana Pascalau, Jean Ulrick Désert, Jessica Rankin, Jörg Schulze-Roloff, Julian-Jakob Kneer, Matthias Hamann, Mi Kafchin, Ming Wong, Nan Goldin, Nathan Storey Freeman, Nicholas Grafia, Noah Rieser, Nooshin Askari, Philipp Timischl, Renate Hampke, Rosa von Praunheim, Samantha Bohatsch, Shaun Motsi, Stef. Engel, Stef Morgner, Thomas Masc, Tommy Camerno, Yein Lee, and Zoe Leonard.

Alex Heide Floor Piece (PS120)- In the Hands of your Authority, 2019

Doireann O’Malley, Anders als die Andern, 2009

Carlos Motta Corpo Fechado—The Devil’s Work, 2018

Nan Goldin My Roomate on Beacon Hill, Boston, 1973  / Nan Goldin Cody in the Dressing Room at the Boy Bar, NYC,1991

Ariel Reichman Last (last) light, 10 Light Bulbs, 15W, Black Lacquer, 2019

Ming Wong Lehre Deutsch mit Petra von Kant / Teach German with Petra von Kant, 2017

Mi Kafchin Maxim and Me, 2016 / Mi Kafchin Cooking for A., 2016

Matthias Hamann, Toilet Installation View

Archive Installation View, E2H, Elberskirchen Hirschfeld Haus – Queeres Kulturhaus Berlin

Platter with Relief of Lesbian Couple Germany, circa 1880


"We're not afraid to be queer and different

If that means hell, well we'll take the chance

They're all so straight, uptight and rigid

They march in lock-step, we prefer to dance

We see a world of romance and pleasure

When all they see is sheer banality

Lavender nights our greatest treasure

Where we can be just who we want to be"

Kurt Schwabach, "Das lila Lied" (The Lavender Song), 1920.

On July 1919, the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft in Berlin opened its doors to the public. Founded by Magnus Hirschfeld, the institute was first of its kind in the world, offering mental and physical aid to those who felt different from the others. Research, education, and political activities took place there alongside the clinic, where also some of the world’s first gender-affirming surgeries were performed. Through 14 years of activity, the institute became a centre, a place of work and even home for many LGBTQ peoples from Berlin and beyond. On 1933, with the rise of the Nazi regime, the institute was lotted and forced to close its doors, but the social, medical and political shockwaves it generated ripple through history, igniting some 50 years later a gathering crowd at the Stonewall Inn to raise against police brutality which, by then, symbolised all the injustice and discriminations they have suffered form their entire lives. 

“In-visible Realness” seeks to wander along some of the forking paths intersecting these shockwaves. The hyphen in the title marks the tension between the visible, the non-visible, and the becoming-visible. Alongside being a charged notion within the queer struggle for recognition, visibility also plays a role in the tactics and modes of representation evident in the artworks exhibited. Originating from Ball-culture, where one of the main desires was to pass-as-real, to appropriate the heteronormative’s looks and moves in order to survive, ‘Realness’ could be reconfigured as a generative notion which doesn’t aim at mimicking the binary but rather seeks to produce realities by itself: from performing the other to creating a self.

Bringing together artists from different fields, media, and times, this constellation does not attempt to survey, summarise or highlight certain artistic gestures and movements, but rather suggests to think of ‘queer’ as a verb in motion instead of a still-standing noun. Within this multiplicity, affinities appear at the intersections and are revealed as a spectrum, one that manifests differences as expressions of elementary entanglement without presupposing separability (Denise Ferreira da Silva, 2016).

“A queer space is an activated zone made proprietary by the occupant or flâneur, the wanderer. It is at once private and public” (Jean-Ulrick Désert, 1997). This quote presents an invitation to wander through this private/public undergrowth of variations, while the attached questioner, comprised of questions presented by Hirschfeld himself to the patients arriving in his institute, could be used as a map. Not one which seeks to guide or presumes to show a (the) way, but rather a map which drifts away (in)to the margins, towards the past, and into one’s own self.


Psychobiologischer Fragebogen

Psychological Questionnaire

Herausgegeben von / Published by Sanitätsrat Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld 

Berlin 1921

35. Did you masturbate? When did you start doing so? How did you come to do so? Were you seduced by someone of the same age and the same or a different gender? At what Age, at what intervals, did you masturbate; what did you fantasize about?

43. Do you know how to whistle?

66. Are there certain days, every week or month, for instance, where you feel more nervous and glum, more or lesser able to work? Were you under the influence of periodical irritability?

79. How is your take on drinking and smoking? Do you hold your liquor well? Are you dependent on any other drugs (morphine, cocaine e.t.c)? How did you come to take those, how often and since when? Do you eat a lot of meat? Are you a vegetarian?

94. Do you even have sexual tendencies or do you lack any of such?

100. Do you love a person because of traits you find in yourself or on the opposite don’t; for instance regarding height, hair colour, intellect?

106. Does your affection tend to be rather fickle or enduring? Do you love to flirt (so called ‘romping‘)?

107. How do you differentiate between love and friendship? What does a friendly relation make? Did your friendships last for a long time? Can you experience friendship as a substitute for love?

117. Does your sexual attraction only aim towards one or both genders (bisexuality)? And if that is the case, do you feel equally drawn to both genders or if one attracts you more, which might that be?

137. Did you form an opinion about a reproductive purpose of your sexual desire and if so, what would that be?




fffriedrich, Frankfurt am Mein, 2019.

Listening sessions

With soundscapes by:

Ada Rączka, François Pisapia, Shaun Motsi, and Kristin Reiman


The works played emit moodscapes of search and displacement. The soundscape created is being explored by the artists as topography, from which they project waves that viscerally allure the listeners into their worlds. The physical, living-room-like setting, was part of an attempt to examine and think of apt, potential environments for the experiencing sound art within the mostly visual-oriented setting of the gallery space. 

Ada Rączka

News From Home


6 min

François Pisapia

Humming While Treading Through Soft Chaos


25 min

Kristin Reiman

Hello Dear Listener 


3 min

Shaun Motsi

Untitled (Bitter Fruit)


7 min

Bonus Track 

François Pisapia 

Live Tuning White Noise (Entropic Static)


LIVE / Saturday 26.02.2019




Michal Heiman

fffriedrich, Frankfurt am Mein, 2018.

Co-curated with Alice Chardenet, Sarah Heuberger and Vicky Kouvaraki, as part of Curatorial Studies class of 17' exhibition series, also featuring Nora Turato, Tim Etchelles and Yuti Lee.

The Dress (1855-2019)

M.H.T. 1, M.H.T. 2

P.H.M. Test

The Dress (1855-2019)


I have returned, I have passed under the arch and am looking around. It's my father's old yard. The puddle in the middle. Old, useless tools, jumbled together, block the way to the attic stairs. The cat lurks on the banister. A torn piece of cloth, once wound around a stick in a game, flutters in the breeze. I have arrived. Who is going to receive me? Who is waiting behind the kitchen door?

From Heimkehr by Franz Kafka 

What does it mean to return? Can one really return, or is the river always different? What to do, once there? How do we get past the guard?

Return is a transition, encounter and confrontation of memories, shadows, abandoned worlds or ones never seen before. On the way to return, geographical borders need to be crossed and different times collide.

The wish to return is at the core of Michal Heiman’s recent project and the starting point of this exhibition. A portrait, a look, a pair of hands, a woman sitting in a checkered dress, directing her eyes to the camera, across countries and centuries, set Heiman on a quest to return to a patient in a London Asylum c. 1855, Plate 34. The woman in the book, “The face of Madness. Hugh W. Diamond and the Origin of Psychiatric Photography”, is Heiman’s younger self.

Countless hidden and invisible stories and gestures are covered by the visual appearance of photographs which, like the Plate 34, have fallen into oblivion. It is these hidden narratives Heiman seeks to draw attention to.

But to return is a complex notion, both journey and target are unknown.

In The Dress (1855-2019), a photography and video series started in 2012 and continued until today, she gathers a community of people who join her to go back to the asylum in the era of the 19th century. With each of them, she deployed a different strategy in order to return and to get past the guard. For her the guard is not only the keeper of the asylum but also the one who may lead her hand.

In fffriedrich, the portraits are gathered and displayed as in a family album. This is the foundation of the bridge to the 19th century, a bridge between times, places and people. The photographs, accompanied by two video works and archival material, are all looking for potential strategies of a return.

At a table placed in the middle of the space, visitors are invited to take part in an experiment, an enactment that is meant to map–through drawings of family trees and conversations–individual histories as well as strengthen our community with both the momentary surrounding and the past. It is a process of collaboration, in which intimacy and self investigation could serve as a potential strategy of return, to revisit our past and what has been suppressed. Reactivating and witnessing each other’s connections proposes an opening, a glance of the forgotten. At the same time it brings forth a potential to intensify relations in the present.



Upward, behind the onstreaming, it Mooned.

Gussglashalle, Berlin, 2018.

Co-curated with Hendrike Nagel

Covered by Tzvetnik

Participating artists: 

Hannah Sophie Dunkelberg, Bertrand Flanet, Hanna-Maria Hammari, Shaun Motsi, Nadia Perlov, M. Welch

M. Welch 1 (sitting room)

Hanna Maria Hammari, Sea World Whistle Blowers (detail)

 Nadia Perlov, A Perfect Cloud

Hanna Maria Hammari, Sea World Whistle Blowers (detail)

Hannah Sophie Dunkelberg, leaves leaving

Shaun Motsi, untitled (Bitter Fruit)

Bertrand Flanet, Tales of the First Material Agent


The nations of this planet [Tlön] are congenitally idealist […] The world for them is not a concourse of objects in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts. It is successive and temporal, not spatial. There are no nouns in Tlön's conjectural Ursprache, from which the "present" languages and the dialects are derived: there are impersonal verbs, modified by monosyllabic suffixes (or prefixes) with an adverbial value.  For example: there is no word corresponding to the word "moon,", but there is a verb which in English would be "to moon" or "to moonate." “The moon rose above the river" is hlor u fang axaxaxas mlo, or literally:

Jorge Luis Borges’s tale of the imaginary land of Tlön gives rise to a variety of speculations on the relationship of fiction and reality. Not only does he use fantasy as an exit strategy out of life but also does he empower the fictional to become a form of critique. In his fictional counter-projection, the world is not conceived as a concourse of objects in space but as a heterogeneous series of independent acts.

… explores ways of inhabiting many places at once and imagining different time zones. 

Nostalgia, which can be diagnosed as a syndrome of our age, likewise manifests its quality in its rebellious counter position to our conventional understanding of both space and time. A concept where time is equated with a linear understanding of history and progress. Nostalgia, in it reluctant nature, encompasses a sense of mourning for worlds and moments in life that have already been lost (or were never actually there to begin with). Worlds of childhood memory, independence, adventure and endless possibilities. Worlds perhaps bigger than those we find ourselves in.

… is not always retrospective; it can be prospective as well. The fantasies of the past determined by the needs of the present have a direct impact on the realities of the future.

As such a double exposure, or a superimposition of two images — of home and abroad, of past and present, of dream and everyday life — Nostalgia not only manifests itself as a retroactive resignation but, at the same time, unfolds a forward-looking incentive and a utopian potential. Following the longing to rebuilt the ideal home, nostalgia enables the desire to alter history, to obliterate its irreversibility plaguing human condition, and to turn it into a private and/or collective mythology.

… speaks in riddles and puzzles, trespassing across the boundaries between disciplines and national territories.

With this idealistic promise and its implied imaginary bygone greatness, nostalgia lies at the core of many powerful ideologies of today. As a seductive tool it is too often being used in order to create phantom collective memories for political gain, tempting us to surrender critical thinking for emotional bonding. Even if understood as false and wrong for many reasons, these affective feelings still have the power to bypass any reflective awareness and to trigger an overall positive emotional response (like McDonald’s happy meals or Disney movies).

… can present an ethical and creative challenge, not merely a pretext for midnight melancholies.

In this context, Upwards, behind the onstreaming, it mooned is an attempt to reactivate and reclaim the utopian and prospective potential/notion of nostalgia, escapism and the fictional as a creative force. Calling back familiar affects, it throws us, quite literally, into different times, places, moments. It is through these imaginary places that we can contemplate and envision change. Much like fiction, when used reflectively and not restoratively, which pulls you into other possible sceneries and moodscapes. As the eye opening experiments being developed in Borge’s tales rather than the blindfold that is fake news.

In-text quotes by Svetlana Boym



Defying Currents

Graduate show / kunsthochschule berlin weißensee


Co-curated with Alice Chardenet and Alexandra Lange

Participating artists:

Mohanad Adwan, Veneta Androva, Nina Barret-Mémy, Ana Belén Cantoni, Christoph Berger, Volo Bevza, Marisa Bihlmann, Finn Carstens, Daniel Ewinger, Kinga Gerech, Paris Giachoustidis, Josephin Hanke, Anka Helfertová, Katrine Hoffmeyer Tougård, Jana Jedermann, Soon-Hwoa Jeong, Amelie Kemmerzehl, Soline Krug, Hee-Eun Kwon, Anton Roland Laub, Julie Legouez, Anne Lentz, Lukas Liese, Sarah Lüttchen, Melina Mauberret, Maria Naidyonova, Peter Odinzow, Fritz Poppenberg, Maria-Evrydiki Poulopoulou, Adrian Redetzki, Pascal Reinhard, Julia Schaller, Susanne Schmitt, Gunay Shamsiyeva, Gintare Simutyte, Juliette Sturlèse, Tanja Szallies, Manuel Tayarani, Daniele Tognozzi, Mirce Velarde-Liljehult, Neels Voqt, Marta Vovk, Yanchuan Yang.


Exhibition of the Master and Diploma students of the kunsthochschule berlin weißensee. Took place in one of the last standing abandoned industrial spaces in Berlin, Kreuzberg. 

Under the title Defying Currents, 44 students exhibited works in mediums varying from painting and sculpture to video and special installations. Like defying gravity, Defying Currents encapsulates the refusal to obey a given law or rule, a refusal to ‘get-in-line’.