The image shows the contour of the universe suggesting a structure of multiple planetary systems. These seem to be connected with each other, in that the paths of the objects in the respective system overlap. The picture is part of the exhibition ARE YOU FOR REAL Phase 2, which takes place in digital space on the platform
Abstract Cosmos © Are you for real


Phase 2: Cosmo-clusters on computation, agency, and magic

2 Dec 2023
31 Dec 2024
Web-based project:

Are you for real? It would be an odd question to ask if we didn’t have technologies at hand capable not only of representing but generating realities. Computation propels a shift in our understanding of what "real" is, and how it should be distinguished from the merely possible, the virtual, and the actual.
Realities can be constructed by calculating machines as much as by the scientific activity that shapes how we perceive our digital and analog life-worlds. The understanding that computation and scientific investigation are two main forces that define our realities lies at the core of ARE YOU FOR REAL Phase 2. In arriving at this second phase, becomes a platform for investigating how computation and the sciences relate to reality—the full potential of their roles in generating new worlds—through the work of artists.

They use computers as tools, as collaborators, and as agents of world creation. They increasingly base their works on the results of scientific research, while also borrowing and transforming its methods in their investigations.
The first cluster "There is no software" reflects on infrastructural issues. They engage with the manifold ways in which the virtual worlds generated by computation depend on the planet, but they also feed on its ecosystem’s imagery, relations, and data as they imagine alternatives for the world from which they emerge. 
The second cluster "Regeneration" speculates on what never was but might have been; these artworks imagine the regenerative power of the virtual and its possible impacts on real-world scenarios, ecosystems, and non-human and interspecies alliances. They are collaborative human-machine explorations that provide counternarratives around technology and around artificial and natural agency.

The third cluster Rituals of Nascent Worlds closes the first year of Phase 2 releases by weirding our understanding and experience of reality through magic, as an alternative system competing with technic and as a generative tool that weaves "the ineffable" (Federico Campagna) into reality, manifesting and actualizing in digital worlds. By claiming the critical and generative potential of magical thinking, the artists featured in this third cluster reimagine our alliances with technology, queer our belief systems, and engage in collaborative practices. They obstruct and restructure perception, representation, and narrative by infusing them with alternative thought in dynamic and evolving environments.
ARE YOU FOR REAL Phase 2 aspires to situate and question a multiplicity of cosmotechnics (to pick up Yuk Hui’s term) shaped by a diverse and decentralized community of artists through a sequence of cosmological propositions, alternating between planetary and terrestrial, ecological and technological, magical and decolonial. They enable us to grasp various aspects of digitalization, and to explore a reality now irreducibly entangled with the online sphere.

Artists Phase 2

Miriam Simun

is an artist working at the intersection of ecological crisis, emergent technology, and somatic practice in multiple formats including video, performance, installation, writing and drawing. Trained as a sociologist and taking on the role of artist-as-fieldworker, Simun spends time within communities of experts, including biomedical engineers, carnivore conservationists, hunters, cephalopods, free divers, and breastfeeding mothers, to create research-based artworks rooted in lived experience. Simun’s practice excavates the poetic and the political from collisions of human and non-human bodies among rapidly evolving techno-ecosystems.

Link to the website


The Rodina

is a post-critical design studio with an experimental practice drenched in strategies of performance art, play, and subversion. The Rodina invents ways of producing and preserving experience, knowledge, and relations. It intertwines its interests in social issues and situated knowledge with the development of design as a space for new imaginaries.

Visit the studio's website


Sahej Rahal

Sahej Rahal is primarily a storyteller. He weaves together fact and fiction, to create counter-mythologies that interrogate narratives shaping the present.

His myth-world takes the shape of sculptures, performances, films, paintings, installations, and AI programs, that he creates by drawing upon sources ranging from local legends to science fiction, rendering scenarios where indeterminate beings emerge from the cracks in our civilization.

Link to the website

The project features further contributions by

  • Crosslucid
  • Guillemette Legrand and Vincent Thornhill
  • GUO Cheng and Weihao Qiu
  • Hollow
  • Jakob Steensen and Joel Kuennen
  • Jelena Viskovic
  • Lou Cantor
  • Lucile Olympe Haute
  • Moritz Jekat
  • Saša Spačal
  • Theodolus Polyviou and Loukis Menelaou
  • Wisrah Villeforth
  • Ziyang Wu and Mark Ramos
  • Tatyana Zambrano
  • and refers to the work of Nolan Oswald Dennis, Zheng Mahler, Nushin Yazdani und Can Karaalioglu from Phase 1

Curators of Phase 2

Giulia Bini

PhD works at the intersection of visual art, media, science, and emerging technologies in curatorial practice, theory, and writing. She is head of program and curator for Enter the Hyper-Scientific, the newly established artist-in-residence program of the College of Humanities (CDH) at EPFL, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne. Previously curator and producer at EPFL Pavilions (2018–21) and a member of the curatorial team of ZKM | Center for Arts and Media Karlsruhe (2014–17), she has curated and co-curated numerous collective exhibitions and solo presentations, among them Nature of Robotics. An Expanded Field (EPFL, 2021) and, as part of the project Beyond Matter, Spatial Affairs and S.A.Worlding (Ludwig Museum Budapest 2021). Bini authored Media spazio display. ZKM Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe | HFG Hochschule für Gestaltung (Mimesis Edizioni, Milano 2022) and is a lecturer at the HEAD Geneva Work.Master program.

Lívia Nolasco-Rózsás

is a curator and art historian. She has curated exhibitions around themes such as the genealogy and social impact of planetary computation or electronic surveillance and democracy at institutions of contemporary and media art worldwide since 2006, including at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Chronus Art Center (Shanghai), Nam June Paik Art Center (Seoul), Tallinna Kunstihoone, and the Ludwig Museum Budapest. In 2019 Nolasco-Rózsás started her curatorial research into the “virtual condition” and she is the initiator and head of the international collaborative project Beyond Matter at ZKM | Karlsruhe, which brings together several institutions such as Centre Pompidou (Paris) and the Aalto University.

Webdesign and Programming

Yehwan Song

is a Korean-born graphic designer, web designer, and web developer running her own independent creative studio, YSong. She is interested in upending the general understanding of web design and playing with visual elements and interactions emerging from content structure. She designs and develops experimental websites and interactive graphics generated from sets of rules instead of static templates and conventions.

Retrospective: ARE YOU FOR REAL – Phase 1

Phase 1 of ARE YOU FOR REAL: 10.12.2020 – 01.08.2023

Impressions from Phase 1

Yehwan Song: webdesign for ARE YOU FOR REAL, 2020, © ifa
Yehwan Song: webdesign for ARE YOU FOR REAL, 2020, © ifa
Nolan Oswald Dennis (developed with Noa Mori): a (screenshot), 2020, essay-game, © the artist
Nolan Oswald Dennis (developed with Noa Mori): a (screenshot), 2020, essay-game, © the artist
Nushin Yazdani & Can Karaalioglu: Into the Pluriverse – Can’s and Nushin’s World, 2020, VR work, © the artists
Nushin Yazdani & Can Karaalioglu: Into the Pluriverse – Can’s and Nushin’s World, 2020, VR work, © the artists
Rasheedah Phillips, Mmere Dane: Black Time Belt, 2021, digitale Collage, © the artists
Rasheedah Phillips, Mmere Dane: Black Time Belt, 2021, digitale Collage, © the artists
Zheng Mahler, What is it like to be a virtual bat?, 2022. Foto: Fledermaus-Mosaik am Tin Hau Tempel, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. photo © the artists
Zheng Mahler, What is it like to be a virtual bat?, 2022. Foto: Fledermaus-Mosaik am Tin Hau Tempel, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. photo © the artists


Nolan Oswald Dennis

is an interdisciplinary artist from Johannesburg. His practice explores a Black consciousness of space, meaning the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonisation. He questions the politics of space and time through a system-specific approach. He is concerned with the hidden structures that predetermine the limits of our social and political imaginations. Through diagrams, drawings, and models, Dennis probes this hidden landscape of systematic and structural conditions, attempting to stitch technological, spiritual, economic, and psychological systems together – to read the technological alongside the spiritual, to combine political fictions with science fiction.

Link to the website


Can Karaalioglu

is a Berlin-based automation engineer currently working in VR research. His artwork focuses on discriminatory and oppressive technologies through the lens of intersectionality, as well as on how technology impacts identities and digital culture in general.

Nushin Isabelle Yazdani

is an interaction and transformation designer, artist, and AI researcher based in Berlin. Her work examines the interconnectedness of digital technologies and social justice, of artificial intelligence and discrimination, from an intersectional feminist perspective. She seeks to explore design processes that dismantle oppressive structures. At Berlin's Education Innovation Lab, Yazdani works on transforming the education system and creating innovative learning methods. She lectures at various universities, and is a member of the Design Justice Network and dgtl fmnsm. She also curates and organizes community events at the intersection of technology, art, and design.

Link to the website


Zheng Mahler

is artist Royce Ng’s and anthropologist Daisy Bisenieks’s Hong Kong-based collaborative examination of the mutual influence and relational networks connecting global trade, nature, and technology, with a particular interest in more-than-human geographies and the environmental architectures they produce. Utilising digital media, performance, and installation, they develop speculative scenarios and immersive, sensory encounters that explore the limits and potentials of their respective disciplines. Together they have exhibited, performed, and participated in numerous international art spaces, institutions, and residencies, working alongside various communities.

Link to the website


Rasheedah Phillips

is a queer housing attorney, parent, and interdisciplinary artist whose writing has appeared in Keywords for Radicals, Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review, The Funambulist, e-flux Architecture, Recess Arts, and more. Phillips is the founder of the AfroFuturist Affair, a founding member of Metropolarity Queer Speculative Fiction Collective, cofounder of Black Quantum Futurism (BQF), and cocreator of Community Futures Lab. As part of BQF and as a solo artist has exhibited, presented, been in residence, and/or performed at the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Chicago Architecture Biennial, Manifesta Biennial, and more.

Link to the website


The project features further contributions by

  • Ibrahim Cissé & Asmaa Jama,
  • João Renato Orecchia Zúñiga,
  • Nelly Y. Pinkrah,
  • Ainslee Alem Robson & Kidus Aailesilassie
  • Michelle M. Wright
  • Dior Thiam, George Demir, Luïza Luz, Mathias Becker
  • Ruben Susanne Bürgam, Gertruda Gilyte, Théo Pożoga, Andi Teichmann
  • Marcel Heise, Yuyen Lin-Woywod, Zaidda Nursiti Kemal and
  • Xiaoyu Tang & Sayaka Katsumoto


Julia Grosse

is co-founder and chief editor of the art magazines Contemporary And (C&) and Contemporary And América Latina (C&AL). With Yvette Mutumba, she was presented the prestigious 'European Cultural Manager of the Year' award in 2020 for exemplary approaches in cultural mediation and sustainability. Grosse is a lecturer at the Institute for Art in Context at the University of the Arts in Berlin. She studied art history, German literature and media studies at the Ruhr University in Bochum and worked as a columnist and arts journalist in London for Die Tageszeitung (taz), Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS), Architectural Digest, and the Süddeutsche Zeitung. In 2020 she curated the festival 'Friendly Confrontations: Festival für Globale Kunst und Institutionskritik' at the Münchner Kammerspiele.

Yvette Mutumba

is co-founder and editor-in-chief of the art magazines Contemporary And (C&) and Contemporary And América Latina (C&AL). With Julia Grosse, she was presented the prestigious 'European Cultural Manager of the Year' award in 2020 for exemplary approaches in cultural mediation and sustainability. She also lectures at the Institute of Art in Context, University of Arts in Berlin and is Curator-at-Large at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. 2018 she was part of the Curatorial Team of the 10th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art and Visiting Professor for 'Global Discourses' at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. 2012 to 2016 she worked as a curator at the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt a. M. Mutumba studied Art History at Freie Universität Berlin and holds a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London.

Paula Nascimento

is an architect and independent curator based in Luanda. She has curated several exhibitions in Angola, South Africa, Portugal, Italy, including participations at the Bam-ako Biennial, VI Lubumbashi Biennial, the African Mobilities Project and is the curator for Focus Africa at Arco Lisboa. She is the co-founder of Beyond Entropy Africa, a collective that developed projects in the fields of architecture-contemporary arts and geopolitics and was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennial in 2013 and an African Architecture Award in 2017. Nascimento collaborates with several educational projects and has contributed to several publications. She has an MA in Architecture from the London South Bank University.

Exhibitions worldwide

With over 20 touring exhibitions currently travelling across the globe and with its diverse event programmes on contemporary art, the ifa links the German art scene with internationally active cultural creators and forms cooperations and networks. The projects, many of which were developed in co-creation with local partners, cover the various disciplines of modern and contemporary fine arts – from current themes in architecture, photography and design to Bauhaus and monographic exhibitions such as Rosemarie Trockel or Wolfgang Tillmans. These projects generate local meeting platforms and allow international perspectives on topics of global relevance. The ifa also provides loan exhibits to interested museums.

Find out more


Overview exhibitions worldwide (PDF)


Nina Frohm

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