Pictoplasma Festival 2015

Review by Marianna Madriz

The 11th Pictoplasma Festival took place between April 29 and May 3 in Berlin, bringing a jam-packed program of exhibitions, talks, workshops, screenings, performances and gatherings with a focus on contemporary character design.

Kino Babylon Cinema. Photograph by Lisa Hassell

Curated by Lars Denicke and Peter Thaler, Pictoplasma showcases emerging and established artists from all over the world to a large and diverse audience. From the US to Japan, from South Korea to Brazil; the festival gathered 18 international artists to speak about their practice in the three day long conference. These included: Birdo, Yomsnil, Andy Ristaino, Akinori Oishi, Nicolas Menard, Loup Blaster, between many others.

Wong Ping talking about his animation work

Many lamented the absence of the Character Walk this year (a traditional trail of exhibitions spread through the city), yet the festival presented a powerful group exhibition in Silent Green: a former crematorium recently refurbished into an arts venue. More than 80 pieces including 3D statuettes, toys, giant wall installations, original paintings and prints from all speakers stood mightily in the immaculate space.

Form Follows Empathy exhibition in Silent Green

Form Follows Empathy exhibition in Silent Green

Highlights included South Korean duo ‘Sticky Monster Lab’s appropriation of popular culture through simple cute imagery; Akinori Oishi drawing his iconic characters on canvas and people’s arms; The Pictoplasma Acadedemy Alumni group show in Urban Spree; a cinema full of viewers enraptured in the surreal ‘Psychedelic Midnight Mix’ animation screening.

Sticky Monster Lab

Sticky Monster Lab

Performance was certainly at the core of this year’s festival: Nadine Reidlich presenting a slideshow of ‘ambience comics’ in front of a quietly hypnotized crowd in the Kino Babylon; A very real fictional lecture about Pictopsychology by expert Erik Willer; BBBlaster mixing 2D sound and visuals in the Platoon Kunsthalle.

Pictopsychology lecture/performance

Pictopsychology lecture/performance

Additionally from the conference, Pictoplasma attendees had the opportunity to apply to the Character Forum: the first time Pictoplasma has introduced this format. In a series of Pecha Kucha presentations, selected presenters had the chance to pitch their projects to prospect clients including Lego, Disney and Hornet, in a secret location.

Q&A with animators after the first screening

Q&A with animators after the first screening

It was a rich program and it’s hard to mention all the great events that happened during the festival (so hard it took a while to write this article…).

But aside from all the insightful activities and exhibitions and gatherings, there’s one thing that Pictoplasma does best: hosting a broadly diverse creative community.

The Missing Link installation in UNIQLO flagship store

The Missing Link installation in UNIQLO flagship store

It encourages artists to meet each other, no matter where they’re from or what kind of work they do – be it illustration, animation, fine art or graphic design-. I, like many, left Berlin feeling inspired by the work I saw and the artists I met, and I only kept wishing to rewind the clock back and repeat it all over again.

Any practitioners with a keen appreciation for anything character related will enjoy Pictoplasma as much as I do. I can’t recommend it enough.

Akinori Oishi in the UNIQLO flagship store

Akinori Oishi in the UNIQLO flagship store

We might have to wait until next spring for the next festival, but the Pictoplasma Academy starts this autumn and applications close on the 16th of July. It’s reputed as an excellent masterclass, and you can find out more about it.

For more information about Pictoplasma, visit their website.


12th June 2015
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