We Went to Reference Festival 2021

vor 3 years

And so did half of Berlin …

At the end of January, Reference Studios (the prime agency in Berlin for all things cutting-edge in fashion and culture) hosted another one of their festivals. The Festival they threw in 2019 was a massive 24 hour party in a multi-storied car park, attended by artists, models, club kids, and others within the creative realm. Robots played instruments. Fecal Matter DJ’d. The drinks flowed freely. It was an experience we still have not forgotten.

This year, the team behind Reference Festival was met with an existential question: ‘Should we still exist?’ The answer was a good one: yes. The next question was a bit tricker: ‘If we must exist, how are we supposed to do it?’

First off, I am admittedly not a fan of the digital realm replacing the physical plane. I typically decline the Zoom birthday parties. I cringe at the museum walls offered to the art-deprived masses in a phone app. I lament that I am watching a fashion show on my screen, and not rocking back and forth on a wooden chair in painful heels in the flesh.

But Reference Festival needed to happen. Berlin has been experiencing a drought of community this year, yet it remains a beacon of creativity. Our artists don’t stop creating, just because they are home-ridden. If anything, they get more creative. And so was the task of Reference Studios.

Nestled into a partnership with Berlin Fashion Week, they digitally mapped a couple spaces around Berlin, where their panels, performances, and features took place. First, there was the Zeiss Planetarium in Prenzlauerberg, where a number of totally wonderful performances took place. The artist-model duo of Anne Imhof and Eliza Douglas performed. Anne notably received the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2017, for her work in the German Pavillion, which her partner Eliza also performed in alongside her: a five hour performance of Faust . Eliza is one of the most sought-after models of our age, and one of the prime inspirations of Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga. ThePAN music label (in accordance with Carhartt WIP) presented a couple of our favorite Berlin musicians: Pan Daijing and Amnesia Scanner, and as to be expected, there were some crazy visuals, courtesy of Freeka Tat.

Throughout all these shows, a live chat allowed us to communicate our thoughts and see what everyone else was loving.

At the home of Reference Studios, a number of panels and fashion-oriented reveals and videos were also presented, including the Helmut Lang archive Enyma revealing its new private home in Berlin.

Such strange mingling and bizarre happenings, that could only occur in a place like Berlin, spurred courtesy of Reference Studios. I implore you to stay in the loop of reference. While their in-person events and parties were always special and sorely missed, now that they have mapped out a couple special universes of their own, I may just be prone to checking in digitally.

Text by Janna Shaw
Imagery Courtesy of Burak Isseven , Adam Berry , and Nadine Fraczkowski 

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