An open letter to the organization of Visual Berlin Festival

June 19, 2010 | Posted by Andreas Apelqvist | 10 Comments
Posted in event report TAGS: , , ,

We choose to write this as an open letter instead of as a regular e-mail. We do it to show a really bad example of an arrangement. We do it in hope that this was a one time coincidence. And if not, that change will be made in the future.

Together with a whole bunch of other VJ’s we’re supposed to perform at Visual Berlin Festival closing party, a party that was held in collaboration with DMY International Design Festival Berlin. We arrived in Berlin on Friday. No one from the organization was there to meet us. That’s really not a big issue since we only had as much tech as we could carry. After getting to the hotel we went straight to Tresor. Getting the accreditation was no problem, but we had now been in Berlin for quite a while and still no one from the organization had tried to contact us to see that we were in town. The fact that this was a DIY festival started to get more and more clear.

It is now Saturday, the last day of the festival. It is the day of the closing party. During the whole day no one had contacted us about the evening. Now we started to actively hunt for answers. We had a paper with names of people and their telephone numbers, people who we started calling to get some answers. Finally we got hold of a person who told us that we could check the tech at around 7 p.m. The party was about to start at 00 a.m. so that was ok. The festival had now moved from Tresor to Collegium Hungaricum Berlin, but the closing party was going to be held at Picknick Club. We arrived at the Picknick Club around 7.30 p.m. The only one there was the clubs own technician, only responsible for setting up the bar/sound and preparing the yard for the evening party. He was really stressed up about the people from Visual Berlin not being there. He had no knowledge, not the responsibility to set up the projectors and screens. We called the person from the organization, asking what’s up. They was still at Collegium Hungaricum. We wasn’t surprised since none of the workshops we had been to during the weekend had been on time. Since the place wasn’t far away from Picknick Club we went over there to get some answers. We got told that the person who was supposed to be in charge over the technical stuff was to tired after the weekend and had to leave the responsibility to another person, which was the one we were talking to now. He told us that, “I should have been at Picknick five hours ago, but have not had the time to”. He said to us that he would head over there right away, and that we should come back one hour before the party started.

Due to miss match in the U-bahn we arrived at Picknick Club at 11.30 p.m. The line outside was long and a huge amount of people had already got in, the party was in full bloom inside. When we reached the yard where the main visuals was going to be, we were met by a handful of the evenings VJ’s hard struggling with getting everything going. No one had been there to set up the screens or the projectors. There were no switch, no power supply. Nothing. They had, as we, arrived just before the party was supposed to start. On two beer crates (placed on the table, taking up huge work space) they had managed to pile three projectors on each other. Just to get something up. We always bring a Kramer switch with us and thanks to that we could switch between the computers. We also have to many cables with us that now came in handy. Thanks to all VJ’s hard work (except my own, I was just furious) everything was up and running at around 00.30 a.m. It looked like crap, but no one other than MacGyver could have done anything more/better with what we had to work with. Since there was no one from the organization there, we had no one who could give us drink tickets. I paid 3€ for a Coca Cola. Yei.

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At 00.57 a.m. (I checked the watch). One of the VJ’s called the person we talked to earlier at Collegium Hungaricum Berlin. To see what was going on. He got the answer that they had decided to keep the party over there. Read it again. They decided to keep the party OVER THERE. And they tell us this now. But we were very welcome if we wanted to come over. Oh, how nice. Or, if we wanted to, we could just stay at the party at Picknick. I got so upset over the ignorance that they showed us that I didn’t know where I would go.

Since there was no work space left on the table only two computers could fit. So I gladly handed over the responsibility for the nights performance to Dan and Daniel. They did the best of the situation. Until the club owner came down. Our table stood right next to the DJ table. And the DJ demanded more space. So we had to move our stuff. The club owner decided that two crates on the ground would be good enough for a VJ to be working on. That was it. The time was around 4 a.m. There was still two-three hours left of the party. But all of us VJ’s decided that it was enough. We shut down the projectors, the place went totally black. We packed our bags and left the place.

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We don’t expect any apologies. We just want to let you know how disappointed we are. We are disgusted by the ignorance you showed us, your guests. We are disappointed over the fact that we as artists puts down a great amount of money and get nothing but humiliation in return. It makes us sad, sad to see how a collective of VJ’s can act this way towards other VJ’s. If it would have been just regular people I could understand it somehow. But we are professionals, fighting for acknowledgement in the same hard, dark and poor branch. What the fuck? Is it supposed to be this way?

Not everything was as bad as it sounds tough. Visual Berlin had gathered a large number of international VJ’s and interesting lectures/workshops were held during the weekend. Tons of tongue twisting geek talk was exchanged. It was a nice spread of installations and club performances. Berlin with one of the best club scenes/culture in the world offers a perfect spot for artist from cross platforms to meet each other and exchange ideas. And Tresor must be the ultimate place to do this at.

Well aware of the fact that the organization didn’t have any money to pay for travels of performances, we applied to this festival. All together we spent about 1 000€ on this trip (travel, transportation, living).

Lucky us that Berlin is the most awesome city in the world.

Sincerely //Startsladd

10 Responses to An open letter to the organization of Visual Berlin Festival

  1. I’m glad I had booked a week in Spain. I was eating ribs with my father in law and enjoying cold San Miguels. Great post however, I feel your pain!

  2. fRED says:

    Ja, we allready discussed this night on couple of after meetings and totally agree that this was not acceptable.

  3. Kiritan Flux says:

    This whole Picknick Club situation was a complete nightmare and worst case scenario for any organiser – and as I feared and now read here – an insult to any artist who’s supposed to be treated as a guest.

    Five hours delay in setting up, ZERO gear available and a totally tired, unmotivated and hungover crew and in addition 30min remining to set up what was planned as an amazing setup with a dozen projectors – of course: impossible! I completely understand your reactions and feelings – I would have felt the same! unfortunately the only thing I can do now is to honestly apologize to you guys for this major FUCK-UP.

    And yes – lesson learned – it was a one-time mistake that will not happen again. I am deeply sorry that it hit you guys the most. I hope we’ll meet again some other timespace. Licht an!

  4. Pingback: visualberlinFestival » Blog Archive » How to NOT make a Closing Party

  5. lucy says:

    hello startsladd.. i met only one of you at the door at tresor during the day. i would like to add my personal apology. we all know your pain and it hurts us because this festival was supposed to be purely for the artists.

    aswell as our limited resources we struggled against some difficult last minute external obstacles. the end result was completely unacceptable for you and several other of our guests.

    you have our heartfelt apologies and please trust this was not a case of arrogance or disrespect, simply very badly managed resources, communication black holes and a handful of artists stretched well beyond their limit during the event.

    i hope we can meet you again under better circumstances. we have nothing but respect and admiration for the effort you put in. thanks for believing in our event enough to come.

  6. e says:

    hello startsladd! also from me a big SORRY for that shit happened.

    But only for your information: we are not a professional party-/booking- or artistmanagement organisation. it was our FIRST festival ever, the planning and set up work was really hard. especially @ tresor. but also @ picknick. You have to know, that the the DMY-guys (@ picknick) didn’t communicate with us really well. they didn’t even know, whether they want to make that party at all. and @ tresor we had huge problems too: they had that construction works going on untill FRIDAY – so we couldn’t get into our spaces in the turbin-hall because of dust and dirt and noise. so first of all theese problems got us into an imbalance which kept on the whole festival.

    thankyou for your attention! next year we will come back again (with better preparations and a stronger manpower!

    e

  7. Hi guys !
    Nice to read your text,
    i’m completely agreed with you,
    the experience that you discribe is very equal
    to our experience.
    I will add a too relax attitude in Collegium Hungaricum Berlin, too much people saying “the place is fuck-up, i can not do anything, i’m not responsable…” with a glass of wine in the hand and without energy to make something happened… or to fix the issue.
    to my eyes, it was possible to fix it …

    However it was nice to meet you guys (VJ Union),
    and some other friends from the VJ scene.

  8. Wow, I feel you guys. But thank you for representing Sweden! :-)

  9. ff says:

    hey e…

    why do you partys, when your’re not able to organize such events?
    it’s too easy to say that you had these problems caus of the OTHERS.
    typical german problem…

    cheers

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