We’re looking forward to welcoming you to the grounds of the Kulturbrauerei on the 25th through the 28th of August, 2021, with events happening in indoor venues and in the open air as well as online. Awaiting you are 120 slots on the programme!
The restless standstill seems to have come to an end, at least in Berlin. The streets are filled again, and even some indoor locations, too, not just with people but with music, too. So is everything back to normal? Not quite. In fact, a new transformation process is underway, and the current situation calls for posing the new questions about the so-called norm. If there is one norm, whom does it apply to? Do we even need it at all, or can we evolve beyond it? Answering these questions requires both a multitude of perspectives and a collective response.
Among the confirmed artists are rap innovator LAYLA, soul and hip-hop queen Danitsa, actor and musician Alexander Scheer in the role of David Bowie, next-generation rapper Serious Klein, 90/00 R&B phantasm Erika de Casier, literary rioters Stefanie Sargnagel and Hengameh Yaghoobifarah, free spirit Liraz, vocal force Tara Nome Doyle, psychedelic experimental phenomenon Księżyc, theatre maker Mazlum Nergiz and sex-positive musician Preach. Ata Canani, the heart and musical voice of Turkish guest workers, is also present – as is Culk with her masterful deconstruction of language, vocal high-flyer Dan Bodan, saz player Petra Nachtmanova, flow machine Flohio and the RambaZamba Theater’s »Studio 21« project. They, along with many others, crystallise an artistic programme that makes one thing clear: there’s not only one form of pop music or pop culture.
“We have a broad understanding of what pop can be,” emphasises Leyla Yenirce, who, along with Pamela Owusu-Brenyah, Yeşim Duman and Christian Morin, has shaped the line-up of Pop-Kultur. “As a fluid construct, pop culture is constantly evolving. How can we, as a festival, pick up on these movements, reflect on them and help push them forward?” says Yeşim Duman.
Breakaways and New Connections
Collective approaches, post-migrant identities, intersectional discourse, inclusive projects, diasporic narratives, queer positions and breakaways from musical expectations all help create a space for mutual exchange. Pop-Kultur is bringing a multifaceted programme of live concerts, readings, films, digital works, talks and the Pop-Kultur commissioned works that move across disciplines, from music to theatre and performance. “By breaking through existing mechanisms, we’re forging new connections,” says Pamela Owusu-Brenyah.
All diese Gewalt aka Max Rieger and his band will focus on commonalities for the commissioned work »Andere« (»Others«), debuting new material and playing with the tension between closeness and distance with a cocoon-like stage design. The interactive space installation »Ping Pong Chat« features a sound installation by Mars Dietz, a performative space that’s accessible throughout the duration of festival. The artist Apex Anima, together with the pole-dance performer FRZNTE, will create a dreamy visual experience that relies on the body while also offering a gesture of empowerment. Meanwhile, Fenster offshoot Discovery Zone will grapple with what it means to be human in the age of digital domination in their commissioned work.
In the talk »Music & Migration,« musician Dounia Hagenauer, dancer Jumoke Adeyanju and composer Natalie Greffel will discuss the influence of bureaucracy, borders and migration on people of colour in the cultural world. Albertine Sarges, who has previously worked with the likes of Kat Frankie and Holly Herndon, will present her new record »The Sticky Fingers« live at Pop-Kultur, and Drangsal will likewise have a concert to celebrate the release of their new album. The theme of disappearing, adapting and transforming is the subject of a recurrent sound structure by the performance duo Les Trucs, and the talk hosted by Nappy Headed Berlin founder Titi Amoako, »The Kids Are Alright. Black Punks,« will explore punk as a way of life (and survival) with Don Jegosah – who also appears in the live programme – producer Jesseline Sarkodie and artist Maya Ifé De Oliveira. Meanwhile, cultural journalist Christoph Dallach, singer Renate Knaup, musician Harald Grosskopf and Daniel Jahn from Bureau B will explore the term »krautrock« and the hidden history of the genre.
Pop journalists Ayosha Kortlang, Jennifer Beck, Miriam Davoudvandi and Sascha Ehlert will look at what the future of pop culture might look like in times of pandemic. In addition, producer Ahzumjot will talk with rapper Ebow about the popularisation of politics and the politicisation of pop – and how artists can navigate between art and agitprop.
Another new feature is the alliance with Berlin collectives: Freak de l’Afrique, Night School Berlin, Selbstgebaute Musik, Sexes and THF Radio will present their work in all its aesthetic diversity at the festival. The impact of the pandemic on collective modes of working will of course play a major role, with further pressing political issues to be tackled as well.
The festival is also strengthening its cooperation with the RambaZamba Theater: the Studio 21project is bringing 21 Downbeat, blind & lame, Choolers Division, Dain Fadinzt, Station 17, Stille Vann and the Wild Classical Music Ensemble onto the stage, while people with disabilities will fill key roles off the stage.
“The guiding question for our awareness concept is: Have we thought about everyone?” explains Elnaz Amiraslani, who as Diversity Manager has developed specific strategies for the festival. Pop-Kultur strives to be a space for everyone. In particular, the programme is designed to offer accessibility and participation for guests with disabilities.
“This year has shown us the importance of public and cultural assembly, both for social discourse and for the state of the individual,” says Christian Morin in anticipation of Pop-Kultur 2021. “It has been our ambition to further open up the festival, serving as a model and helping set new standards that are long overdue,” adds Katja Lucker, festival director and managing director of Musicboard Berlin.
Pop-Kultur is committed to guaranteeing a safe festival experience in accordance with the pandemic conditions while also ensuring an inclusive, non-discriminatory experience on the festival grounds as well as with its online presence. Because now is the time to give new cultural and social inspiration, to enter new dialogues and to figure out how we all actually want to live together. Everyone should have a say in this – everyone must be allowed to take part.