Imagine yourself wandering through tunnels of a power plant in complete darkness, occasionally seeing a yellow light that guides your path. It’s just you and a couple of strangers whose faces you cannot see, but whose hands you desperately want to hold not to get lost. We’re not talking about some new video game or an indie film; this experience is happening now to the visitors of Berlin Atonal‘s latest guided exhibition, The Metabolic Rift — on view until the end of the month.
Kraftwerk, the location of this year’s festival, welcomes visitors with its impressive monumental architecture and hidden passageways that are finally open to the public. Metabolic Rift is impossible to define; it is a saturated mix of an exhibition, a concert, a performance and an otherworldly experience. If you have certain expectations before visiting Atonal, forget them; the festival is nothing you could ever imagine, a world of its own that must be experienced to be properly understood.
From September 25th until the end of October, Köpenicker Straße becomes home to more than 20 site-specific works from artists all over the world. The (un)guided tour lasts approximately two hours – that’s what it takes for the visitors to fully immerse themselves into the newly created universe of Metabolic Rift and explore the previously hidden passageways of the power plant.
As you enter, there’s complete darkness. Nothing can be seen nor heard. The only palpable thing presence of others, be it a person behind you or Kraftwerk itself. Indeed, as you wander the dark corners of the plant, you start feeling like it’s not you who’s discovering and observing Kraftwerk; it’s Kraftwerk observing you. Some installations and sounds make you physically uncomfortable; others, like the sky dancer, make you want to look at them for eternity.
The goal of the artists whose works are presented at Atonal was to make the visitors feel — to “let the listeners stay open-minded throughout the pieces and welcome the sounds” they hear during the tour. Atonal asks you to receive it and allow yourself to dive into the fantastic world of technology and art. The things created with its use of light, sound and space are “spontaneous and fluid.” At a certain point, they become so powerful and overwhelming that they almost feel alive.
The combination of darkness, experimental sounds and visuals suddenly makes you more aware of the people around you. Was it Atonal’s goal to make people a part of this exhibition? Why does this girl standing in the doorway flooded with pink light look like she was always meant to be there? Why do these people’s shadows move perfectly in sync with the sounds? The experience would not be the same without the group with whom you enter the plant, and as you wander through the darkness, you become closer to them. You cannot imagine Atonal without them, as they have become its inherent part.
You, too, are an inherent part — when you stand questioning existence while looking at the sky dancer, who looks like he’s either dancing or struggling to find balance; when you stare at a Maneki-Neko waving to you from a neon-lit crashed car; when all the sounds and images overwhelm you and make you forget about the world outside Kraftwerk. During these two hours, there’s only you — and the world of Metabolic Rift to capture you and make you its piece.
Metabolic Rift is on view until 30th October. Discover more on its website.