QT, UR, EA opening in Berlin

  • Art, fashion, video games and Oli XL collide at Trauma Bar und Kino with unexpected results.
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  • The line for the opening night of QT, UR, EA, an eight-week long exhibition at Berlin's Trauma Bar und Kino, was the kind you order pizza to. It was wild to watch an art-focused event in a part of town slightly off the beaten path gain so much attention. "I haven't seen a line like this outside of Berghain," a friend noted, staring at the snaking crowd that stretched well beyond the venue's parking lot. Having to wait for 75 minutes in the cold on a January night was maddening, but in the end the lower-back pain and frozen fingers were worth it. The event encapsulated the strength and uniqueness of Trauma Bar's programming, where art, fashion and club culture combine to give guests epic immersive experiences. Having been exposed to a lot of disappointing work at the intersection of art and technology over the years, descriptions like "science-fiction narrative" and "real-time virtual worlds" can read as kind of a red flag. So when I eventually reached the door and was instructed by a bouncer to shut off my phone's Wi-Fi, my expectations were subdued. But as I entered the room to scantily clad alien creatures clawing at my ankles, I was finally faced with a legitimate example of "world-building." Motion sensors in the aliens' sportswear triggered intricate, post-apocalyptic animations projected on the walls. Every nook and cranny was cordoned off into little terrariums full of shiny bugs, gravel and hanging bags of oyster-like mushrooms. The performance peaked with a group of dancers in inflated PVC snoods throwing themselves at each other in a ceremonial and confrontational dance. Drinking a beer while you watch fit aliens wrestle each other to the floor under the gaze of a bunch of giant upholstered beetles is enough to make even the most forward-thinking raver feel like a bit of a country bumpkin. But once I became numb to the surreality of QT, UR, EA, curated by artists Mary-Audrey Ramirez and LUKAS8K, the event revealed itself to be a refreshingly accessible take on these subjects. As the performance came to a close, the Los Angeles- and Berlin-based artist bod [包家巷] took the first stab at transitioning things into a club night with a cheeky DJ set that oscillated between laidback hip-hop bangers and startling donks. The crowd started thinning out as those who'd been there since 9 PM lost steam, but the passion remained. When the Swedish producer and DJ Oli XL dove in with post-jungle and UK rave classics, feet flew off the ground and arms noodled through the air. During a particularly enlightened moment, he threw down "Where's Your Head At" by Basement Jaxx, and I was gleefully reminded that at the end of the day, we're all just monkeys with turntables. With that, it was time to grab my coat and leave behind one dystopian world for another. Photo credit / Kitty Lee Schumacher