Recap: 10th Annual Pictoplasma Conference and Festival

by Roxanne GoldbergPosted on


Tim Biskup presenting at the Pictoplasma Conference. Photo by Kid Instants.

The 10th Annual Pictoplasma Conference and Festival recently closed in Berlin. To celebrate a decade of innovative and progressive graphic arts, more than 100 of the project’s most influential artists, designers, illustrators, and filmmakers created portraits for “The Pictoplasma Portrait Gallery.”

Many of the character portraits alluded to death and politics, and were heavily wary of contemporary society’s reliance on smartphones, as well as the high levels at which we consume technology. The overall critical sentiment enticed the viewer to think of society through the external lenses of the fictitious characters.

Toy-like horses flee the brain-space of a woman, whose placid face bursts and appears like fragmented bits of porcelain in Berlin-based Andrea Wan’s, “Horses.” In Fons Schiedon’s 10-channel video installation, “Everyone needs a cheerleader,” early cartoon aesthetics showing such images as a bald eagle surfing in “Waterboarding Club” undermine U.S. foreign policy. Berlin-based Max Gärtner, whose “Animal Watching” exhibition at last year’s festival cleverly put man and animal in conversation with one another to reveal similarities between the human world and the animal kingdom, presented a tiger against a gold background, creating a majestic aura around the king of the jungle.

Two large-scale works grounded the exhibition in topics of technology. On the upstairs level, the festival’s cornerstone project, “#CharacterSelfies,” addressed the current “selfie” phenomenon in an open call to designers, illustrators and artists, who were invited to submit small-scale images of their characters taking such pictures. Under the tagline, “TOO MANY DUCK FACES, NOT ENOUGH CHARACTER,” the project highlighted the disturbing narcissism that is plaguing the current environment and causing detriment to the way people relate to one another on a basic human level.

To complement “#CharacterSelfies,” an installation on the ground floor by Australian-born Rilla Alexander consisted of a grocery aisle and shopping cart, both filled with “serial” boxes printed with Pictoplasma’s “Missing Link” character, which since 2011, has functioned as a symbol of the generic character lost without context. The packages of “White Noise” strongly resemble Andy Warhol’s “Brillo Boxes” and suggest today’s value system is no longer based on material, but is instead founded on the virtual.


Nychos presenting at the conference. Photo by Kid Instants.


Kimiaki Yaegashi presenting at the conference. Photo by Kid Instants.


Diana Beltran Herrera presenting at the conference. Photo by Kid Instants.


View of the Pictoplasma Portrait Gallery, photo by Dahahm Choi.


Andrea Wan, Pictoplasma Portrait Gallery.


Juan Molinet, Pictoplasma Portrait Gallery.


Jon Fox, Pictoplasma Portrait Gallery.


Doma Collective, Pictoplasma Portrait Gallery.


Max Gartner, Pictoplasma Portait Gallery.


Mark Jenkins, Pictoplasma Portrait Gallery.


“#CharacterSelfies” install.


#CharacterSelfie by T-Wei


#CharacterSelfie by Stefano Colferai


Rilla Alexander’s “White Noise” installation on the ground floor of the Portrait Gallery. Photo by Dahahm Choi.

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