Impressions from the festival: the new fence, that was erected to keep out the thousands of people that joined every year for free. A performance at the festival, with a little gated space that only a small number of people was allowed to enter and to play on the grass and enjoy the barbecue with the owner. Some political glitches, an EZLN-sign without the usual message about alcohol etc. and a banner that was originally against a big nationalist celebration.
Fellow shituationist Fancypunk had written a polemic against the new fence before the festival, because he saw the fence-jumping as an essential part of the leftist attitude of the festival. I guess for determined people it did not make a difference if there is one fence or two, the more essential change was a security system that made it impossible to share the festival wristband.
But in the end what seemed to make the trip to the festival somehow a dilemma for many Berlin leftists was the fact that a conflict between a refugee squat and the local government in the city had escalated the same week, with refugees staying on the roof and announcing their suicide in case of an eviction. In the end many of the political groups that participate in the organising of the festival picked up this topic and spread information during the festival, and for example the queerfeminist rapper Sookee invited representatives of Lampedusa Hamburg to speak on the central Hangar stage. Exactly this “solution” to the general dilemma of hedonism: to add political information and funding for campaigns to the purposes of a festival has been criticized by lower class magazine Lowerclassmagazine. The shituationists on the other side would claim that the dilemma of hedonism and the crisis of political hedonism runs deeper: see our old text about temporary hedonist comfort zones. (This is by the way the basic perspective of our project: to understand the potentials and limits of collective art events and celebrations. That it does not make sense to criticize the raves without putting them into context, seeing them as an answer to a social reality. And to open up critical perspectives on the social praxis of these events apart from the tinted vision of political hedonism.)
The problem that I personally saw with this festival was not the accused commercialisation from the side of the organisers (like rising ticket prices and more strict controls against freeriders), but more the promotion attitude of the acts. The weeks before you got bombarded with facebook invitations to the individual performances, as acts are not relying on their fans to use the programme to join them, but use the festivals popularity in their stream of online promotion. I kind of liked the tradition to keep the flow of information a bit down before the festival. Once you enter the site the most fitting mode of exploration has anyways always been drifting, my personal advice would be to just decide on one act per day that you really want to see… Personal highlights this year were Etkin Cekin DJing at Karl Kutter, Don Williams at Querfeld, and the punk band Pascow in the Datscha. And the decoration and atmosphere of the Tanzwiese, as usual:
Apart from these promotional star attitudes of the acts and the moral discussion about leftist raving, these some days open again and again the possibility of a nice trip and drift with friends into an artistic environment, very refreshing and full of explorations of ambiences and sounds.