Curatorial Introduction
BPA// Exhibition 2023
Amid the Alien Corn
25 November 23 – 7 January 24


Artists: Johannes Büttner (in collaboration with Julian Vogel), Grayson Earle, Heyon Han, Sebastian Jefford, Ida Lawrence, Maness, Simone Miné Koza, Bassem Saad, Tian Guoxin, Jasmin Werner


<p>Heyon Han, <em>The mowing devil; In flavour future</em>, film still, 2019. Courtesy the artist.</p>

Heyon Han, The mowing devil; In flavour future, film still, 2019. Courtesy the artist.


KW Institute for Contemporary Art and BPA// Berlin program for artists are pleased to present the BPA// Exhibition 2023, Amid the Alien Corn, featuring works produced by second year BPA// participants over the course of the program. The exhibition takes over two floors of KW’s front house as well as the institution’s facade.


In Amid the Alien Corn, an inherent tension between fiction, imagination, truth, and the digital looms. Engaging different worlds and techniques, the artists share the central act of narrating. Yet, it turns away from conventional storytelling; instead, the artists nurture shadows, the poetic, the artificial, and desire to reveal the moments when the alluring myths of capitalism and other prevailing power constructs seem to get caught in their own nets. The subtitle of this year’s exhibition, Amid the Alien Corn, is a quote culled from The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (1986) by Ursula K. Le Guin that draws on her appeal to rethink linear narratives celebrating heroism and progress. The exhibition engages with Le Guin’s strange realism and thinks alongside the counter-narratives explored and alternative worldbuilding attempted in the different presented works. It aims to reflect the multiplicity of their complex, warped, and speculative realities, while also seeing the artists as separate narrative carriers.

The works by Johannes Büttner, Grayson Earle, Heyon Han, Simone Miné Koza, Tian Guoxin, and Jasmin Werner share the urge to circumvent cycles, whether it is by hacking digital ecosystems and disturbing their financial flows or bleeding conspiracy theories. Weaving and twisting the utopias and dystopias of techno-capitalism and consumerism, they interlace worlds that we thought were distinct and reveal their interdependencies. They make us desire an alternative universe, which empowers queer and non-normative forms of existence.


Sebastian Jefford, Ida Lawrence, Maness, and Bassem Saad study the movement of bodies through given and at times confining structures. Regarding space as semantic architectures of power and access, they poetically layer, bend, and morph real and fictive sites in an attempt to give form to the fluid self and its opportunities of engagement.

As both a place of transcendence and hamstringed escape, the exhibition paints a tainted fandom of the future.


The exhibition is accompanied by a set of essays for which each artist has invited an author of their choosing to reflect on their respective artistic practice and work. The collection of writing is available in KW’s bookshop. In addition, the accompanying public program, which includes artist-led tours, offers a deeper engagement with certain practices.


In 2020, KW Institute for Contemporary Art and BPA// Berlin program for artists formed their partnership. BPA// is an artist-led organization, founded in 2016 by Angela Bulloch, Simon Denny, and Willem de Rooij. The program is centered around mutual studio visits between participants and mentors. It is punctuated with a range of public events, organized together with both artist-run spaces and renowned institutions. Each year BPA//’s mentors select ten of Berlin’s most promising emerging artists to join the program for two years. Participation is free of charge and includes support to produce new work.





Johannes Büttner, Platform, Literaturhaus Berlin 2022 in collaboration with Steffen Köhn, produced with support from BPA// Berlin program for artists, photo Phil Dera. Courtesy the artist.


Johannes Büttner (b. 1985, DE)

MedBed, 2023

Various materials, manufactured in collaboration with Benjamin Zuber (3D-modeling), Grayson Earle (programming), Grete Gehrke (upholstery), and Johannes Klingebiel (sound)

150 x 120 x 240 cm


Johannes Büttner and Julian Vogel 

Gold, 2023

Video, sound

30 minutes

Video editing: Ginés Olivares, Sebastian Winkels

Subtitles: Nicklas Bauske


In Gold, Johannes Büttner continues his ongoing research into contemporary socioeconomic structures, neoliberal ideology, and its mirroring of conspiracy narratives. Together with documentary filmmaker and collaborator Julian Vogel, they paint an intimate and eerie film portrait of the “libertarian authoritarian” (Amlinger and Nachtwey) — oftentimes called “Querdenker” — a more complex and resourceful character than the liberal left is led to believe.

MedBed is inspired by the myth of a medical device to heal all illnesses and, at best, extend life. Departing from the bed as a site of rest and unproductivity, the myth dreams up a cot to breed infinite human optimization and growth. It is particularly upheld by the American QAnon movement that claims med beds are kept and utilized by elite members of a deep state. They are often illustrated with footage from sci-fi films, like Elysium (2013). In Büttner’s sculptural paraphrase, the bed takes on a dark, sardonic form: programmed into Gold’s algorithm, the sculpture moves in accordance with the film — like puppet and puppeteer — hinting at the deception of conspiracy propagandists.


Johannes Büttner wanted to be a garbageman, carpenter, advertiser, or wrestler as a child. In 2023, he was an artist-in-residence at Los Angeles in Günsterode, Germany. In 2024, he will travel, with a scholarship from the Hessische Kulturstiftung, to research libertarian ideology and Free Private Cities.


Julian Vogel has made documentaries, such as TILMAN IM PARADIES (2011) about a john who falls in love with a prostitute, PALAST (2013) about a housing project, and BILDER VOM FLO (2016) about his best friend’s deceased father. His most recent work, the trilogy EINZELTÄTER (2023), portrays survivors of the right-wing terror attacks in Munich (2016), Halle (2019), and Hanau (2020).



BPA Berlin program for artists 2023

Grayson Earle, Why don’t the cops fight each other?, screenshot, 2022. Courtesy the artist.


Grayson Earle (b. 1987, USA)

Why don’t the cops fight each other?, 2022

Video, sound

9:42 minutes


cop stuff, 2023

Balloons, spikes, barricades

Dimensions variable


In Why don’t the cops fight each other? Grayson Earle engages the decoding of the hidden political structures of the video game Grand Theft Auto V. In a desktop documentary, we literally follow Earle step by step as he forensically investigates behind the scenes of Grand Theft Auto’s source code and attempts to rewrite it in order to make policemen – demoralized in their roles – fight each other. The open-source principle of the game allows the modding community to reprogram characters, their abilities, and general legalities without limits, but not in the case of the police. The attempt to criticize the power dynamics emanating from the police, particularly in relation to the death of George Floyd in 2020 in the United States, and to attribute violence to the cop characters themselves, in this game, fails. GTA, which is supposedly known as subversive for its anti-establishment attitude, raises issues related not only to dealing with violent methods but also of political governance in gaming. Earle adds archetypical and playful mockups to the presentation of the film that are aesthetically associated with executive power and aspects of security. In this spatial arrangement, helium balloons, anti-pigeon spikes, and barricades have lost their authoritarian character but remain as politically ambivalent as GTA.   


Grayson Earle is a contemporary artist and activist from the United States. His work deals with the role that digital technologies and networks play in protest and political agency. He is known for his guerrilla video projections as a member of The Illuminator, a guerrilla video projection collective, and for his project Bail Bloc, a computer program that posts bail for low-income people.



BPA// Berlin program for artists 2023

Heyon Han, The mowing devil; In flavour future, film still, 2019. Courtesy the artist.


Heyon Han (b. 1985, KR)

Flipping Hands / AI and Untitled Ceramics in a Drama Living Room, 2023

Wallpaper, ceramic, video, sound, 8:36 minutes

Dimensions variable


Flipping Hands is a critical inquiry into the intricate interplay between capitalism and cultural expression in Korean drama productions. Propelling its popularity internationally in recent decades, the Korean entertainment industry, which includes the phenomena K-pop and K-drama, has become one of the most powerful cultural players worldwide. First utilized as a political tool in the wake of the divided Korea, the drama genre is still known for lushly blending Western consumerist capitalism (for example, through product placements) with the country’s deeply ingrained Confucian traditions and conservative virtues.


Encompassing ceramic sculpture, video, and installation, Flipping Hands simulates a domestic living room, an integral trope to the K-drama. Still, something is broken: the pictorial motifs on the wall seem to thaw, while the pottery and furniture resembles oversized instant noodles. By using AI image generators as research tools to analyze and critically reproduce the K-drama’s data landscape, Han punctures the genre’s shiny artifice of predictable narrative structures, celebrated imagery, and familiar settings. The mesh of hidden values and influences mix in the same cup of soup and come to the surface.


Heyon Han is a South Korean artist based in Berlin. She studied fine arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg, Germany, and at the Hongik University in Seoul, Korea. Her work was recently shown in a group exhibition by Goldrausch Female Artists Project at Haubrok Foundation (Berlin), and at the 2019 Pixelache Festival, titled “Breaking the Fifth Wall,” in Helsinki, Finland.



BPA// 23 Künstler Sebastian Jefford

Sebastian Jefford, Irreconcilable differences (detail), 2023. Polyurethane foam, acrylic paint, plastic snap fasteners, plexiglass, wood, cardboard, insulation foam, pva glue, 140 x 200 x 35 cm.


Sebastian Jefford (b. 1990, UK)

Crustacean, 2023

Wood, plexiglass, metal, aquarium sand, found notes, paper, graphite 

54 x 76 x 55 cm


Mollusc, 2023

Reptile, 2023

Amphibian, 2023

Wood, plexiglass, metal, aquarium sand, found notes, paper, graphite 

60 x 50 x 60 cm


Irreconcilable differences, 2023

Polyurethane foam, acrylic paint, plastic snap fasteners, plexiglass, wood, cardboard, insulation foam, PVA glue 

140 x 200 x 35 cm


Terraform, 2023

Acrylic and india ink on canvas

40 x 40 cm


Sebastian Jefford’s practice is situated at the intersection of sculpture, painting, and installation. He often deals with the phenomenon of time and history as a belief system. Through his own formal language, textural and material exploration, he both evokes familiar and alienated visual, historical, or geological references. The assembled works—Crustacean, Mollusc, Reptile, and Amphibian—allude to animal phylum species and fossilized states. In transparent containers that are suspended from children’s tables, Jefford incorporates found notes, defamiliarizing their origin and semantic function in this composition. The assembled objects become subjects of speculation, forming their own narrative of worldbuilding that hold the potential for error, misinterpretation, or even outright fiction. In this way, he raises fundamental questions about the (visual) codes and sciences through which we attempt to communicate. At the same time, Jefford draws our attention to the ephemerality of the human condition and shows the extent to which memory and past perceptions determine the present.


Sebastian Jefford is a Welsh artist working in Berlin. He graduated from the Royal Academy Schools, London, in 2017. Recent solo exhibitions include The Living World of Animals at Gianni Manhattan (Vienna) and Sentiment, Sediment at Galleri Opdahl (Stavanger).



BPA Berlin program for artists

Ida Lawrence, Fermented Feelings, detail, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 120 cm x 155 cm. Courtesy the artist.


Ida Lawrence (b. 1988, AU)

Two for One, 2023

Acrylic and oil on polycotton canvas, painted wall, objects on shelves

Installation: 328 cm x 470 cm; diptych: 180 cm x 120 cm (each)


In her narrative paintings, Ida Lawrence combines images and text to tell stories of (mis)understanding, (dis)connection, generosity, failure, and surprise. Lawrence’s visual languages and family tales from Indonesia and Australia are laid out on canvases, or, like in Two for One, life-size combine paintings and murals.


In this story, Lawrence paints a portrait of shopkeeper Norm and his role in the local community. Always falling into conversation with his customers, Norm doesn’t shy away from giving heartfelt yet unsolicited advice. Two for One speaks to the tacit workings of our interpersonal relations. Complementary to the exhibited works, in a subsequent open conversation between the artist and the story’s inspiration, Norman Musung, Lawrence reflects on her own methodology with questions of how it feels to be made into a character and how that protagonist would narrate their own story. Drawing on their long, existing friendship, the two reminisce about the now-closed shop in inner-city Sydney and take turns asking questions, musing together on the themes of Two for One.


Ida Lawrence lives in Berlin and often wanders to Indonesia and Australia via her painted stories. Her solo show, Basa-Basi / Chit-Chat, was exhibited by ISA Art Gallery at Art SG 2023, while her tallest tale was painted on the 8 x 15 meter wall at Urban Spree, Berlin, in 2020. She is a recipient of the Marten Bequest Scholarship for Painting and is cooking up a publication called Loose Translations.


Two for One story translated into German, and further conversations between Norman Musung and Ida Lawrence (in English)



Maness, Paradisi, film still, 2023. Courtesy the artist.


Maness (b. 1988, MX)

Paradisi, 2023

HD video, sound

20 minutes


Pe (Paradisi), 2023

Metal, acrylic glass, PLA filament, feathers, glass eyes, acrylic paint

230 x 120 x 80 cm


Maness’s practice often finds inspiration in cinematographic and theatrical storytelling. In his first and newly produced video, Paradisi, we meander through both fiction and reality, where Maness negotiates the ambivalent state of being an artist in the creative, but rough, urban metropolis Berlin. In a hybrid costume – half a bird of paradise, half human – that produces ambient sound and Foley effects out of the bird’s mouth, we accompany the artist on the way from his studio, along places of personal relevance, to one of the most central art venues of Berlin’s modernism: the Neue Nationalgalerie. The city itself becomes the stage on which the artist-bird performs as the main protagonist of its own life, constantly searching for orientation, belonging, meaning, and comfort. Oscillating between hopes of success and the precarity of life, the video reflects existential and critical questions that cultural producers are permanently confronted with: How do representation, outer perception, reality, and fiction go hand in hand? The life-size bird costume, on display in the exhibition space, becomes a reminiscence of longing for identification and freedom.


Maness (Andrés Mora Balzaretti) is a Mexican artist based in Berlin. He studied at La Esmeralda and the Cinematographic Training Center in Mexico City. He has exhibited with Studio Beta in Berlin and is currently working on the production of his upcoming film, Narrenschiff, scheduled for release in 2024.



BPA// 2023 Simone Mine Koza Video StillSimone Miné Koza, Δ, 2023 (Videostill).


Simone Miné Koza (b. 1997, JP)

Δ, 2023

Ultra HD video, filmed footage, motion graphics, sound 

8 minutes 

Sound: trngs

Performers: Jung Min Lee, Rashiyah Elanga, Tú

Styling: Yi Li, bbysclaw


In her video works, Simone Miné Koza creates her own, extensive, alternative universe in which dreams and fiction are intertwined with utopian fantasies. The three-channel 3D animation Δ (delta) mediates the transition from natural to digital heritage. A fictional species named ‘Profiles’ embodies the last humanoid generation living in a hyper-technical but already dilapidated landscape. Their organisms feed on geometric codes derived from human data. The geometric forms orbit around themselves, alluding to a desire to dissolve the organic substance of the body and transform into non-linear and non-normative forms of existence and time – a realm of digital consciousness. Koza’s practice creates shifting identities in a posthuman era, exploring the possibilities of earthly transience and digital rebirth that renounces rigid notions of identity and seeks a new start in an immortal queer spectrum.


Simone Miné Koza is a French-Japanese video artist based in Berlin. Her practice revolves around her fascination with the science fiction genre and her experimental approach to motion graphic design. With an iconography filled with pop-culture references, she invites the viewer to explore hyper-technological worlds.



BPA// 2023 Bassem Saad

Bassem Saad, Suppose that Rome is not a human habitation, 2022. Courtesy the artist.


Bassem Saad (b. 1994, LB)

Suppose that Rome is not a human habitation #1, 2022
Tri-image lenticular print mounted on alu-dibond

59 x 84 cm


Suppose that Rome is not a human habitation #3, 2022
Tri-image lenticular print mounted on alu-dibond
59 x 84 cm


Bassem Saad and Maxi Wallenhorst

Fateless (working title), 2023
4K Ultra HD single-channel video, sound

10 minutes


Works from Bassem Saad’s ongoing series, Suppose that Rome is not a human habitation, are composite images of photography, text, and poetic fragments. On top of images showing peripheral landscapes outside prisons in Berlin and Marseille, the lenticular prints layer thoughts, objects, and sites of access, leisure, and confinement. Creating an emotive palimpsest, Saad questions the unconscious, suppressive architectures of perception and memory. They interlace different liminal spaces in an attempt to portray the lived experiences and emotional lives of protagonists bordering societal norms and legal structures. Alongside the lenticular prints, Saad presents a video work in progress, made in collaboration with writer Maxi Wallenhorst. Fateless (working title) is a rehearsal for a film, which comprises a series of audition interviews. Through the characters of these possible protagonists, Saad and Wallenhorst tell the story of a city that is abstract and confining alike. They attempt to show the city’s choking social and political architecture through the protagonists’ dissident strategies for emancipation and opposition to its descriptors.


Bassem Saad is an artist and writer born in Beirut. Their work explores notions of historical rupture, spontaneity, and surplus through film, performance, and sculpture, alongside essays and fiction. Saad’s work has been presented and screened at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), CPH:DOX Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, Triangle-Astérides centre d’art contemporain (Marseille), Busan Biennale, and Transmediale (Berlin). Saad´s film, Congress of Idling Persons, received a special mention in the New:Vision award category at CPH:DOX 2022.


Maxi Wallenhorst is a writer and lives in Berlin. Their recent essays have been published in e-flux and Texte zur Kunst.



BPA// 2023 Tian Gouxin

Tian Guoxin, Project Unknown Kiwifruit, 2022–2023, Source from Tauranga City Libraries Photograph Collection, Showing a 1979 celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the naming of the Kiwifruit by Turners & Growers. The name was coined by Mr. John Turner at right. Courtesy the artist.


Tian Guoxin (b. 1991, CH)

论斤论个 per kilo, per fruit, 2023

Nets for shading 20%, Donghong variety red Mihoutao, vine from last season, buckets, carpet, compressed carton, labels, plastic ropes, poly resin, clay, A0 poster (in collaboration with Rory Witt), HD video (in collaboration with Yve Oh), sound, 7 minutes

Dimensions variable


Tian Guoxin is interested in human relationships to resources—their extraction, commercialization, and production—in the past, present, and future. In 论斤论个 per kilo, per fruit, based on her extensive research, she traces the origin of the Kiwi fruit, its political history, biological transformation, and cultural perception. In the early twentieth century, the Chinese gooseberry Mihoutao (猕猴桃) was brought from China to New Zealand, where it was profitably cultivated and eventually renamed after the island’s iconic bird: the Kiwi. Tian, familiar with the Mihoutao (猕猴桃) growing in her home region in Sichuan, followed the European tracks of the fruit’s cultivation, which evolved in Northern Italy. There, orchards started growing the newly patented Chinese fruit. Today, part of that production is sold back to the Chinese market under the name Kiwi fruit (奇异果). The multimedia installation 论斤论个 per kilo, per fruit, spanning two floors, reenacts the kiwi’s life cycle through naming, re-naming, planting, harvesting, breeding, maturing, packaging, transporting, marketing, selling, and consuming. Tian thus unfolds the power structures and suppressed narration to which natural goods of consumption are subjected in a hyper-industrialized system.


Tian Guoxin was born in Sichuan, China, and lives and works in Berlin. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg in 2021. She has worked collectively as part of the artist collective Pibao Gongsi. She has recently exhibited at Galerie Der Künstler*innen (Munich), Kunsthalle Baden, and with the rubbles of old palaces (Berlin).



BPA// 2023 Jasmin Werner Fassade

Jasmin Werner, KW Institute for Contemporary Art Facade, Mock-Up, 2023.


Jasmin Werner (b. 1987, DE)

Send Money Fast, 2023

Four roller shutters, acrylic paint, spray paint

Dimensions variable


Jasmin Werner’s recent work is a series of custom-made roller shutters mounted in front of four selected windows on KW’s facade. The shutters showcase the hand-painted logos of the money transfer companies Ria, Small World, and Western Union, which offer swift global remittances, often times aiding relatives and families who live outside the established banking systems of the West. In her work, Werner engages architectures of power, and the hierarchy and effects of global capitalism. Inspired by existing shutters found on kiosks in Berlin-Moabit, among other places in the city, she critically examines financial flows and the precarity of the migrant condition. One shutter shows the wing of the red admiral butterfly—a particular migratory nymphalid species—whose lifecycle has been altered due to increasing global warming. The shutters are made in collaboration with Dawid Celek, who is a Berlin-based sign painter and graffiti artist. Of Polish descent, Celek often employs Polish workers in his painting jobs in Poland and Berlin, a gesture that feeds into Werner’s comment on the transnational loop and migrant movement of labor.


Jasmin Werner is a German-Filipino artist working in Berlin. She received her Meisterschüler from Peter Fischli at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste – Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main, in 2016. She recently exhibited at Kunstverein Hannover and, in 2024, will have solo exhibitions at the Kunsthal Thy (Denmark) and Galerie Guido W. Baudach (Berlin). 






Curator: Sofie Krogh Christensen

Assistant Curator: Sophia Yvette Scherer

Head of Production: Mathias Wölfing

Exhibition Coordination: Benjamin Althammer

Technical Management: Wilken Schade

Head of Installation, Media Technology: Markus Krieger

Installation Team: KW Installation Team

Registrars: Monika Grzymislawska, Bryn Veditz

Education and Art Mediation: Laura Hummernbrum, Alexia Manzano

Public Program and Outreach: Nikolas Brummer

Press and Communication: Marie Kube, Anna Falck-Ytter

Text and Editing: Sofie Krogh Christensen, Sophia Yvette Scherer

Translation and Copy Editing: Sabine Weier, Jayne Wilkinson

Academic Traineeship: Lara Scherrieble

Interns: Michael Broschmann, Hibatolah Nassiri-Vural, Robin Schmitt, Nina Wohlfahrter


<p> </p>
<p>BPA// Berlin program for artists is funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Community in partnership with KW Institute for Contemporary Art. BPA// Exhibition 2023 is made possible with the generous support of the LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin and LAS Art Foundation.</p>


BPA// Berlin program for artists is funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Community in partnership with KW Institute for Contemporary Art. BPA// Exhibition 2023 is made possible with the generous support of the LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin and LAS Art Foundation.