Sz.Berlin is a London-based cultural intervention force originally formed in 2007. It draws inspiration from German and European historical, cultural & ideological sources, including the hidden history of East German design culture and electronic music research, as well as from the Warsaw Pact, which the group uses as a prism through which to examine the contradictions of the former Western bloc. More recently, it has engaged with Irish history and the ambivalent legacy of architectural Brutalism in Britain. Its approach is a form of weaponised sound art, used to explore historical and cultural contradictions.
Sz. Berlin has performed at several London nights including Ill FM At The Others, Klub V.E.B., Noise=Noise and, in 2017 and 2019 at Iklectik. It has also performed at historic locations in Bosnia, Germany and Ireland.
In May 2011 the group participated in the first Konjic Biennale with three installations and a live performance in the tunnel of the former Yugoslav nuclear command bunker. Following a pause, Sz. Berlin re-emerged in 2013 with a London live action and a new video, plus remixes of the American group Epoch. Sz. Berlin also commissioned and contributed to a thematic compilation based on the complex history of East Germany and this was issued in October 2014 by the label VEB89.
Studio work continued in 2015, resulting in the release of a new digital track. Following a period of intensive historical research and a/v production and editing, Sz. Berlin re-emerged in summer 2016 to participate in 2nd NSK State Folk Art Biennale in Ireland. Sz. Berlin performed live at the opening in Ballyvaughan Castle, Co. Clare and a video piece was exhibited in the Biennale exhibition. In October 2016 Sz. Berlin performed a live soundtrack to the video piece at London’s Horse Hospital.
In May 2017 Sz. Berlin performed at a event organised by VEB89 at Iklectik. This was followed in July by a performance aboard M.S. Stubnitz in Hamburg, during the Primal Uproar festival. These performances and the subsequent album were inspired by the history of the Stubnitz as a former DDR fishing ship.
In 2018, Sz. Berlin released its first CDR album, Windstärke zwölf, based on these live performances. The album explored the dark legacy of the East German navy (Volksmarine) and fishing fleets, which were decimated following German re-unification, with social and political consequences that are still unfolding today. The album presents a ghostly glimpse into the lost world of the Cold War at sea and the lives of those engaged on its frontlines. The album also featured a remix by Autopsia of Sz. Berlin’s version of the East German national anthem.
The following January, a new audiovisual work, Towards a concrete dys(u)topia was premiered at Iklectik. Using field recordings, archive material, live electronics and processing, it explored the ambivalent and even terrifying status of concrete and Brutalism in the public imagination.
For press, performance or installation enquiries please contact sz.berlin[at]ymail.com
Trailer for the January 2018 Iklectik performance Towards A Concrete (Dys)Utopia
Video from the album Windstärke zwölf as performed at Iklectik in May 2017.
Remixed video of Sz. Berlin’s installation 25kt at the Yugoslav nuclear command bunker in Konjic, Bosnia.