Joy Division have been referenced well within the archives of fashion designer Raf Simons, so it’s no surprise that when Antwerp’s finest was asked by Mercedes-Benz to curate a festival in Berlin, he should run with the moniker Transmission1.
Part of a project the German auto giant is calling The Avant/Garde Diaries, Simons invited key press, fans and friends to join him in east Germany last weekend, from 15th-17th July, for a summit of minds. Deep breath, then, for those that share the stimuli of his world: iconic art director Peter Saville; writer, editor and creative director Jo–Ann Furniss; artists Peter De Potter and Germain Kruip; industrial designer Konstantin Grcic; bloggers Begüm Sekendiz Boré (Dandygum) and Peter Henderson (Hapsical); contemporary dance's Michael Clark Company and musicians These New Puritans, DJ Hell, Goose and Fischerspooner, who were all given carte blanche over the weekend to perform in the best way they knew how.
After a celebratory introduction at the riverside Grill Royal, TNPS kicked off the action on Friday night, with a gloaming, motorik performance featuring vintage Mercedes-Benz engines, moulding the Southenders’ jarring intensity to a one-off Neubautenesque extreme. “These New Puritans are one of the bands at the forefront of a new musical generation where I see content, taste, experiment and daring," Raf explained of the act's draw.
DJ Hell, house/techno don and International Deejay Gigolos' head honcho, followed capably, banging out sounds fitting of clubbing's capitals and serving to reinforce Raf’s impeccable taste level when it comes to repetitive, electronic sound.
Outside of the performance studio, first night revellers viewed Peter De Potter’s stunning Image Machine installation, edited from his work-in-progress Tumblr and plastered over the venue’s huge windows, with all the poetry and intonation of modern stained glass.
Peter Saville, the mind behind the most celebrated record sleeves in history, contrasted with his 1998 Mercedes SL, which he drove to Deutschland and parked upstairs as a ready-made, Joy Division rattling from the stereo – dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio. Downstairs Mercedes showcased a concept A-class model, within a cube of smoke-tinged light by the Dutch talent artist Germaine Kruip and producer Thierry Dreyfus.