Transmediale Launches Year-Long Festival with Digital Platform ‘Almanac for refusal’

Jan. 22, 2021

On January 28th, 2021 the 34th annual transmediale festival will commence its year-long program with the launch of its digital platform ‘Almanac for Refusal’. This year, the Berlin-based festival for art and digital culture will occur both online and, later, in person. As a practical response to Covid-19 government guidelines, the digital platform ‘Almanac for Refusal’ will house a collection of browser-based artworks consisting of film, photo-essays, texts, images, podcasts, sound experiments and more. Inspired by almanac traditions, the platform will be updated at the end of each lunar cycle, acting as a guide to the festival program.

A highlight in the January issue of the Almanac is the 2021 Marshall McLuhan Lecture by Jason Edwards Lewis on approaching artificial intelligence from a relational rather than instrumental perspective. As well as this, CTM and transmediale have commissioned ‘rehearsal letter’, a recorded studio session produced as part of the development of a soundtrack for artist Frances Scott’s forthcoming work ‘Wendy’, a cinematic work dedicated to composer and musician Wendy Carlos. Both ‘rehearsal letter’ and the McLuhan Lecture will be available online on the ‘Almanac for Refusal’ from January 28th.

a black and white photograph of a close-up of Wendy Carlos' hands cupping the air.

Frances Scott: ‘Valentina’, 2020, film still

a black and white photograph of a close-up of Wendy Carlos' face with closed eyes

Frances Scott: ‘Valentina’, 2020, film still

The theme ‘for refusal’ arose out of the perceived necessity by the festival’s direction to reframe the concept of refusal, not as passivity but as an assertion that an alternative is needed. Transmediale 2021–22 will explore different positions of refusal and the ways in which they are connected to building new commitments and forming new relationships.

Transmediale’s pre-festival program Vorspiel—which engages with digital art, culture, experimental music and sound art—began online on January 15th. This is the 10th anniversary edition of Vorspiel and will continue online and in person, Covid-19 guidelines permitting. Curated by 35 venues, the Vorspiel program offers critical discourse on art, technology, politics, and identity, through exchange and reflection.

A photograph of a sculpture of a white dog with a metallic purple face and metallic purple stripes.

Micha Cárdenas: ‘Roja from Sin Sol’, // Courtesy of the artist

This year’s festival includes exhibitions, screenings, discourse programs, as well as workshops, commissions and residencies. Alongside the digital program, transmediale’s physical exhibition, ‘Rendering Refusal’ will be available to the public as soon as it is permissible to visit in-person. Exploring socio-political realities that are misaligned with the status quo, ‘Rendering Refusal’ examines the power of the relationship between hope and refusal. Running until March 28th, ‘Rendering Refusal’ will take place across two venues in Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien and Betonhalle, Silent Green Kulturquartier. In the meantime, digital access to the exhibition is facilitated through Remote Visits as well as extensive documentation. Remote Visits allow visitors to connect with an exhibition guide via video call to digitally accompany them through the exhibition. This service will be available from the transmediale website starting from February.

This year’s film program, ‘remote.response.request’, brings together academics, filmmakers and performers to produce commissioned installations inspired by forming a new relationship between viewers and the image. The work is also responding to film’s current state of suspension as a result of the pandemic. Showing at the transmediale studio in three-month installments, these works will be available to view as soon as government regulations allow.

For more than 30 years transmediale has been encouraging critical discourse around art, digital culture and societal shifts. transmediale 2021-22 endeavours to capture the political agency of refusal and where it resides in society by examining new socio-political realities grounded in care, hope and desire. The year-long program will be available online, beginning on January 28th, 2021.

Festival Info


‘for refusal’
Festival: Jan. 28, 2021–2022
‘Rendering Refusal’
Group Exhibition: Jan. 28–Mar. 28, 2021
Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien and Betonhalle, Silent Green Kulturquartier

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