Poetics of Encryption
February 17 – May 26, 2024
Curator: Nadim Samman
Assistant Curator: Linda Franken
Curatorial Assistant: Lara Scherrieble

Though we rely on digital tools for many things, we rarely understand how they work. Moreover, due to the proprietary nature of much corporate tech, even the most curious among us cannot gain deeper insight. Today, we must all come to terms with our relative lack of power in the face of inscrutable systems. What symptoms of this personal and political drama register in the cultural field? What moods, symbols, or narrative frames capture the aesthetics and politics of exclusion, occlusion, secrecy, and speculation concerning technology’s inside? This extensive group exhibition builds upon the recent book by Nadim Samman, Poetics of Encryption: Art and the Technocene (KW/Hatje Cantz, 2023). It surveys an imaginative landscape marked by Black Sites, Black Boxes, and Black Holes—terms that indicate how technical systems capture users; how they work in stealth; and how they distort cultural space-time. The themes form the basis for three chapters that plat out across multiple gallery levels at KW in Berlin. Spanning analogue and digital media, Poetics of Encryption features both historic and newly commissioned work by more than 40 international artists.

Exhibition website

All images courtesy KW Institute for Contemproary Art, Photographer: Frank Sperling

Work details: vessel 1 (to hold a digital file), 2020, 3D printed and glazed stoneware, 15 x 14 x 10 cm
vessel 7 (to hold a digital file), 2023, 3D printed and glazed stoneware, 16 x 18 x 16 cm
holding death close, 2021-22, video in four stages, approx. 45 min total