by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

Mercedes-Benz underlines its ambition to lead in automotive culture: International avantgarde in dialogue

The Mercedes-Benz ‘Avantgarde Diaries' kick off today at the Berlin Congress Centre on Alexanderplatz. Until 17 July 2011, under the direction of fashion designer and curator Raf Simons, artists and trendsetters will be presenting their take on today's and tomorrow's world and engaging in dialogue with experts, as well as the general public. With this event, Mercedes-Benz is providing a creative platform for the discussion of social and contemporary issues relating to art, fashion, music, innovation, trends, culture and the automobile.

"As the inventor of the motor car, Mercedes-Benz has continually honed safety, comfort and driving pleasure through a whole series of innovations, and has created numerous new categories of vehicles in the premium segment. And our new generation of compact cars will be setting new standards in this segment as well," commented Anders Sundt Jensen, Vice President Brand Communications Mercedes-Benz Cars, at the event's opening.

Raf Simons added: "Mercedes-Benz means a great deal to me personally. The brand has been an influence on me since childhood."

Avantgarde setting for the Concept A-CLASS

One highlight of the 'Avantgarde Diaries – Transmission1' festival in Berlin is the artistic setting for the Concept A-CLASS. Joining forces here with the French lighting specialist Thierry Dreyfus and the German product designer Konstantin Grcic, the Dutch conceptual and multimedia artist Germaine Kruip combines the consummate purism of Raf Simons with the pioneering spirit of the Mercedes-Benz brand. Creating a complete experience through the use of space, light, lasers and furniture, visitors are encouraged to discover the new. The installation thus provides impressive evidence that interest and excitement about going beyond existing frontiers – not just at Mercedes-Benz – are key drivers of innovation and progress.

Staged in such an inspiring way, the showcar provides a taster of what is to come with the new A-Class, and is sure to arouse curiosity about the new generation of compact cars from Mercedes-Benz, which is due to be launched in four variants over the next four years. The brand with the three-pointed star is thereby underlining its ambition to lead and demonstrating that it will continue to point the way forward in future.

"First we take Berlin …"

As the venue for the first 'Avantgarde Diaries' festival, the Berlin Congress Centre on Alexanderplatz provides a building that ties in perfectly with the event: a potent symbol of the best in German avantgarde architecture. For three days, this impressive building designed by Bauhaus-influenced architect Hermann Henselmann will become the focal point for leading thinkers from both home and abroad. Exhibitions, discussions and performances will be held on the stage, in the lounge and studio as well as in the Showcar Suite.

The Berlin 'Avantgarde Diaries – Transmission1' kicks off an outstanding series of events that will also take in other major international cities.

The 'Avantgarde Diaries – Transmission1' festival at the Berlin Congress Centre on Alexanderplatz is open to the public on 16 and 17 July 2011 from 12 noon until midnight. Admission is free.

Digital interview magazine

Anyone unable to attend the events in person can get to meet the protagonists at . To coincide with the eventin Berlin, Mercedes-Benz is launching a digital interview magazine, which will take a personal look at innovations, remarkable ideas and people who are influencing style and setting trends. The online format, produced in the heart of New York, will present fascinating stories about inspirational individuals from the worlds of fashion, design, music, film and mobility. Renowned designers, editors in chief, gallery owners, art directors or pop icons will use this space in future to introduce people from their lives whose ideas and work inspire them. For example, gallery owner Johann König encounters the artist Tue Greenfort, and art director Eddie Brennan presents the New York-based contemporary artist Dustin Yellin.

Ahead of its time for the last 125 years

With the 'Avantgarde Diaries', Mercedes-Benz is demonstrating the sustainability of its ambition to lead in automotive culture. Since the days of Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, the Mercedes-Benz brand has constantly been looking to reinvent the car, to further its development in technological terms and to and to create icons that set benchmarks. The 540 K from 1936, the 300 SL gullwing model from 1955, and future classics such as the latest CLS and, from 2012, the sporty new A-Class are just a few examples. The brand with the three-pointed star held Europe's wealthy and aristocratic society in thrall towards the end of the 19th century, and still to this day excites people all over the world. Film directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, renowned artists like Andy Warhol and musicians such as Ringo Starr took inspiration from the Mercedes-Benz star and the vehicles it adorned to create modern-day classics in their respective genres.

Over the course of the company's history, Mercedes-Benz has been able to demonstrate time and time again, in a way that no other automotive brand can, that this is a company that is ahead of its time. Groundbreaking automotive development has, however, always gone hand in hand with the democratisation of technical innovations. With innovations such as the airbag, ABS and ESP®, Mercedes-Benz has always shown the way forward and shaped the entire automotive industry. Although they will have made their debut in luxury-class vehicles, most such safety, comfort and convenience features are now part of the standard specification across all vehicle segments.
Mercedes-Benz picks up on this tradition with the 'Avantgarde Diaries' – a response to the major challenges facing the automotive industry. With enthralling vehicles, new mobility concepts and innovative drive technologies, Mercedes-Benz is already rising to these challenges, showing itself at the same time to be a responsible brand that is well prepared for the future.

The curator and the artists

The artists were picked by Raf Simons, the curator of the Berlin 'Avantgarde Diaries – Transmission1'. Each artist will be given the opportunity to stage an exhibition, performance, concert, installation or even unveil a work of art.

Raf Simons is a Belgian industrial and fashion designer. In 1995 he launched his own menswear label 'Raf Simons' and became head designer at Jil Sander AG in 2005. He lives and works in Antwerp, Milan and Paris. His function for the Avantgarde Diaries as a highly profiled designer is to form the festival 'Transmission 1' in Berlin with his creative input.

Peter Saville is a British art director from Manchester, best known for his album covers for Joy Division, OMD, New Order and other bands signed with the Factory Records label. His work – for instance the legendary cover for the New Order single Blue Monday in the form of an 8-inch floppy disk or the cover for the Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures – stands out with its quintessential, minimalist style. He runs his own company Peter Saville Associates. Apart from his work with the music industry, he has also worked for customers such as CNN, Adobe Systems, Givenchy and Stella McCartney. Peter Saville stages his own Mercedes-Benz SL 500 built in 1998 in the foyer of the first floor. Out of the car the song ’Transmission’ by Joy Division is playing which is a link to Peter Saville's famous work for the band’s album artwork. The installation is therefore a personal commitment of the artist and his relation to the brand.

Konstantin Grcic is a German industrial designer. He is regarded as one of the most influential contemporary designers from Germany. In 1991, Grcic founded the KGID design agency (Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design) in Munich. He has subsequently designed furniture, lighting and accessories on behalf of numerous leading design companies. His seating furniture produced out of Osorom plastic in 2002 is perhaps his most well-known piece. Grcic has received numerous accolades for his work. His MAYDAY lamp was added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2001. In correspondence with the showcar installation Grcic's chairs 360°/Margis will be supplied with an illuminant which results in a special art lounge experience for all guests.

Michael Clark is a Scottish dancer and choreographer. He studied at the Royal Ballet School in London. In 1984 he set up Michael Clark and Company. Since then he has been working with numerous prestigious artists and dance ensembles. Most recently his new creations were staged at the Biennale in Venice in 2009, and his work 'Come, Been and Gone', modern dance pieces set to music by David Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, delighted audiences in October 2010. Michael Clark and his dance company will perform one of his famous pieces to the music of David Bowie at the Studio.
Jo-Ann Furnissis an editor, creative director and writer, and was editor in chief of Arena Homme+ between 2004 and 2011. She has worked on various publications including i-D, The Face, Sleazenation and Another Magazine. Jo‑Ann has also contributed features to The Independent newspaper, The New York Times,, Vogue Hommes International (Japan), Colors, Dazed and Confused and Love Magazine. She has also worked with various brands including Mugler, Giles, Emanuel Ungaro and Louis Vuitton. Jo-Ann Furniss' writing has also been featured in various books including Raf Simons: Redux, Ghetto and FashionNow: i-D Selects the World's 150 Most Important Designers. She is currently editing the Dazed and Confused 20th Anniversary book alongside Jefferson Hack. Together with her high-profile guests Tim Blanks and Paul Morley she will guide the audience through the symposium on the subject of 'Pop Culture' and give people an insight into the world of design, fashion and music.

These New Puritans is a British band from Southend-on-Sea. The band consists of singer Jack Barnett, his twin brother George Barnett, Thomas Hein and Sophie Sleigh-Johnson. They first came to prominence with their 2008 debut album, Beat Pyramid. Their second album Hidden is influenced by the later work of Steve Reich, Japanese percussion and in particular the compositions of Benjamin Britten. For this album they worked together with a unique ensemble consisting of a pianist with a minimalist approach as well as a 13-piece woodwind and brass band. With their musical piece they went on a live tour and took excellent credit for their work. These New Puritans play a one-hour live set at the Studio which will be accompanied by synthesizers and Mercedes car engines.

Peter De Potter is a Belgian artist. Since 1996 he has been contributing both as artist and writer for Belgian (including Weekend Knack) and international publications (including i-D). He was also involved in the exhibitions 'The Fourth Sex' (Pitti Immagine, Florence, 2003) and 'Excess' (Pitti Immagine, Florence, 2004). Furthermore, he was curator of NEO80 (Pitti Immagine, Florence, 2004) where his video sculpture 'The Young Gods' was also exhibited. Peter De Potter's work has been published in various magazines including Arena Homme Plus and Atmosphere. Peter De Potter will do a photographic installation on the window façade of the first floor. The series shows pictures of a remarkable size from the artist's personal archive.

Germaine Kruip is a Dutch artist. Her work has been shown in numerous international solo and group exhibitions. Raf Simons has been collecting her art for some time and teamed up with her to design the Jil Sander Flagship Store in New York. She lives in Amsterdam and Brussels. Germaine Kruip exposes two gigantic art installations in both of the stairways at BCC. The confrontation of the two pieces, one is made of marble, the other of light metal, results in a contrast of heaviness and lightness, brightness and darkness.

Begüm Sekendiz Boré is a French-Turkish journalist for fashion and art magazines. She writes her own Blog 'Dandy Gum' with a strong link to Raf Simons' work. She lives and works in Paris.

Peter Hendersonis fashion writer for a large publication. In 2008, he often wore homemade Lego accessories, leading to label him a "gen Y hipster who still nurtures happy memories of playing with the blocks as a kid". Peter Henderson has his own Blog 'Hapsical' where he writes about his thoughts on fashion and art. He is a big fan of Raf Simons and his work.

Goose is a Belgian electro rock band consisting of members Mickael Karkousse, Dave Martijn, Tom Coghe and Bert Libeert, formed in 2000. They have made two albums and in 2002 they released their debut single 'Audience', which was used in commercials all over the world. Goose plays their electro rock sound live at the Studio. They will also play a DJ set to accompany the party after the live gigs on that night.

Fischerspooner is an electroclash band from New York City.

Source: Daimler AG

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