Following years of eagerly awaiting its line-up and watching from afar, we’re very excited that this year we will be partnering with Pictoplasma to cover its events and conference, and we’ll even be there ourselves! In the first of a series of articles, below we take you through what visitors can expect during the festival in May.
This spring, international festival of character design and art, Pictoplasma, will yet again take over the streets, cinema venues and exhibition spaces of Berlin. Running from 8-12 May, this year’s edition of the festival, its 15th, is curated around the title of “Inter_Faces”, bringing together artists working within the remits of illustration, animation, digital design, gaming and fine art. However this year, artists showcased at Pictoplasma singularly, and as a whole, will be probing at the “unreciprocated emotions between humans and virtual characters”.
This year’s edition of Pictoplasma features a stellar line up of speakers including Wes Anderson’s “go-to character creator” Félicie Haymoz and Sundance 2018 winner Jeron Braxton, attendees will also see Laura Callaghan, Luke Pearson, Yukai Du and Laurie Rowan, to name but a few. Pictoplasma will not only play host to these creatives speaking about their work but also a series of exhibitions.
Pictoplasma’s central titular exhibition, Inter_Faces, will showcase artworks exploring “our emotional relationship with virtual characters”, the festival describes. To represent the digital in an exhibition context, Lucas Zanotto will present large kinetic sculptures “with which viewers try in vain to establish eye contact” and Jeron Braxton will “seduce” exhibition visitors with “a performative interaction with his polygonal characters”. This exhibition – held at Silent Green with free entry to the public – will also feature a “serial group artwork” by Elenor Kopka, Eran Hilleli, Julian Glander, Laurie Rowan and Peter Millard, each appearing as giant holograms reacting “to viewers and elicit their empathy, only to destroy it again, or render it superfluous”.
Another event over the days of the festival is a “character walk” through various exhibitions in the Mitte district of Berlin. Covering seven project spaces and the work of ten artists, at the first stop, Luke Pearson – whose graphic novel Hilda was turned into a Netflix original in 2018 – will display his original drawings from the comic, alongside objects that provided inspiration for his personal creative process.
Nearby at Volume in Brunnenstraße, Rob Wallace, otherwise known as Parallel Teeth, will take over the space with Relax, an installation acting as “an invitation to try to do exactly that”. Across at Auguststraße, Félicie Haymoz will reveal her original drawings, references and even two original stop-motion puppets made while she was working on the character design for Isle of Dogs. Other events along the walk include the work of creative duos Cabeza Patata and Twee Muizen, as well as a selection of work by 35 alumni of Pictoplasma’s academy from 2018.
Over the course of the festival, there will also be a series of screening programmes, presenting experimental animated shorts. Split into four parts over the days of the festival Character Journey, the first edition taking place on 9 May, promises to explore “unknown worlds and new encounters” through the work of filmmaker Dal Park and Louis Morton.
The following day, Character Crisis, a themed screening will take place, showcasing a piece by Anna Mantzaris delving “into the dark underbelly of human psyche and the joys of being nasty”, as well as Revenge Story by Erin Kim, looking at the “negative feelings and grievances” of her central character. This will be followed by Character Comfort, a slightly softer collection of shorts, which will offer solace to its watchers through the work of Jon Frickey and Jola Bańkowska.
Additionally, on the evenings of 10-11 May, our favourite sounding screening will take place: the Psychedelic Midnight Mix. It will play host to animations which promise to be “consciousness-expanding, post-narrative wonders that explore unchartered aesthetic territory”. And, it comes as no surprise that Sophie Koko Gate will be sharing work at this event.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.