Press : AR Biennale


AR Biennale

22/08/2021 - 24/04/2022

NRW-Forum to Host the First AR Biennale

Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the most exciting presentation formats for contemporary art today. From August 22, 2021, the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf will host the world’s first AR Biennale. International artists are currently developing site-specific works that will occupy the surrounding Ehrenhof and Hofgarten. Additional works will be shown at satellite projects in Cologne and Essen.

Augmented reality is one of the most important topics of the future. More and more companies are launching new technologies, but it is not only digitally networked, smart factories, the medical field, and the entertainment industry that are making use of the possibilities offered by the digital augmentation of reality; many contemporary artists have also discovered this fusion of analog and digital worlds and the manifold opportunities for interaction.

With this globally unique project, the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf is offering a prominent platform to augmented reality art. The AR Biennale will create a new outdoor digital sculpture park every two years. Visitors can explore the Hofgarten and the Ehrenhof with their own smartphone or tablet. Digital artworks will be inserted into the real environment and become visible on the visitor’s device through an app. No other exhibition format is better suited to these times.

“Augmented reality is hybrid, novel, and very creative. Physical boundaries are eliminated, and you are able to see things that couldn’t really exist. Many artists are currently developing innovative AR works. We are thinking big and designing a biennale that presents the most internationally significant artists working in AR,” says Alain Bieber, artistic director of the NRW-Forum and curator of the first iteration of the biennale.

“Digital formats are a focus of our work at the NRW-Forum. AR art is an important form of expression of the future that belongs in institutions’ exhibition programming and requires suitable spaces. We are deilghted to be able to offer this young art form a platform as part of the first biennale of its kind,” emphasizes Felix Krämer, general director of the Kunstpalast.

19 international artists have been invited to create new site-specific works. The works explore topics such as nature and physicality in the digital world, sustainability, and new forms of communication with a wide range of opportunities for interaction and playful approaches.

Participating Artists

Artists participating in the first biennale include Lauren Lee McCarthy (USA), who adds virtual statements to the benches in the park and creates occasions for communication. The London and Berlin-based collective Keiken, founded by Tanya Cruz, Hana Omori, and Isabel Ramos, experiments with AR and gamified performance and has developed an AR game scene for the chess boards in the park. The London-based Studio Above&Below, consisting of Daria Jelonek and Perry-James Sugden, uses the latest digital and sensor technology to translate changes in air quality into an AR data visualization.

The Kunstakademie Düsseldorf is situated directly next to the park, and so its graduates have a personal relationship to the site: Giulia Bowinkel and Friedemann Banz (DE) work with AI-based forms of AR, while Tim Berresheim (DE) creates an AR scene in which a virtual figure breaks into the Kunstpalast’s collection in order to steal works by the artist Jørgen Dobloug.

In cooperation with the Ballett am Rhein, the sculptural works will be accompanied by AR dance performances. Virtual fairies will be placed in visitors’ hands. Shrunk to a few centimeters tall, dancers will appear on the visitors’ own smartphone or tablet and can be discovered at various locations around the park.

Other artists taking part in the first biennale include Jeremy Bailey (CAN), Cibelle Cavalli Bastos (BRA/UK), Gabriel Barcia-Colombo (USA), Lucie Freynhagen (DE), Andy Picci (CHE), Damjanski (USA), David Lobser (USA), Manuel Rossner (DE), MengXuan Sun (CHN/DE), Sarah Rothberg (USA), Theo Triantafyllidis (GRC/USA), Shawné Michaelain Holloway (USA), and Lola Zoido (ESP).

The development of the app for the AR Biennale is supported by its technical cooperation partner, Canon. Tourismus NRW is involved in the realization of the AR Biennale – together with its partners Düsseldorf Tourismus, KölnTourismus and Ruhr Tourismus – as part of the project FLOW.NRW – Integrated Tourism and Location Marketing for the Creative and Digital Economy in NRW. Under the name urbanana, the project aims to highlight the creative and digital scenes in the cities of North Rhine-Westphalia. As a destination partner, it is facilitating the satellite projects in Cologne and Essen. The project is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The biennale has managed to secure Facebook as a media partner, and their creative strategist Marc Wirbeleit is pleased: “AR & VR have the potential to change our world: how we work, play, learn, communicate and also how we create and experience art. We are delighted to be able to support this ambitious art project with our technological expertise.”

The AR Biennale is also supported by the Department of Mixed Reality and Visualization (MIREVI) at the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences.

The first biennale will be curated by Alain Bieber, artistic director of the NRW-Forum. It will be organized by different curators every two years.

Press images

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Cooperation partners

Destination partners

Media partners

Partners Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf Otto Beisheim Stiftung Hoffmann Liebs Max Brown Midtown CCS