Beyond the Goldilocks Era and into the Anthropocene Era
Since the beginning of 2013 and up until December 2014, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt has grappled with the Anthropocene hypothesis, a proposition that the planet has left the stable climes that characterize the geological epoch of the Holocene, finding itself now firmly within a new age of humanity’s doing.
Can humanity construct new ecosystems? Can we truly feel climate change, rather than simply know it? How do we cultivate knowledge based on sensitivity towards accelerated material cycles?
The entanglement of industrial metabolism, climate change, mass urbanization, soil erosion and species extinction, as well as an emergent social (self-) awareness have come together to show: The dynamic reconfiguration of cause and effect, means and ends, quality and quantity all require a new approach to the world that is not informed by postmodern discourse, but rather predicates itself upon material interconnections and processes.
Like a speck of Saharan dust that is carried by trade winds to nourish the Amazon basin, granulate plastics accumulate in far away ocean gyres. Every material activity finds wide-reaching resonance within the earth system, forcing humanity to reconsider its ways of being and doing in the world.
A new sense of wonder towards the world is invoked: faced with the unknown and the amazement of the earth system’s complexity, what can we do – as geological agents – how can we know, and to what extent are the two connected in the form of practices?
In A Report, an extensive program of events that concludes The Anthropocene Project, HKW explores precisely these questions. The core of the program is the long opening weekend with A Matter Theater (curated by Katrin Klingan, Ashkan Sepahvand, Christoph Rosol and Janek Müller) and exhibitions by Adam Avikainen, The Otolith Group and Anthropocene Observatory, all of which are curated by Anselm Franke. However, A Report includes more. The four-volume publication Textures of the Anthropocene: Grain Vapor Ray takes the materiality of the world at its word—in the form of the Particular (Grain), the Volatile (Vapor) and the Radiant (Ray): a selection of historic texts from Hippocrates to Borges, an archive of reflections on materialities and their constant transformation, commented on and extended by contemporary authors. The book forms one theoretical framework for A Report and will be presented here for the first time.
The Anthropocene Working Group, established by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, is contributing to science history by developing a proposal for the ratification of the Anthropocene as a geological epoch. It will hold its first official meeting on this weekend at HKW, and its forum event will be open to the public.
The media competition Future Storytelling looks for cross-media narrative strategies which do justice to the Anthropocene thesis; the best projects will be premiered as part of A Report. An online Encyclopedia provides a list of the most important terms of the Anthropocene Project and its online material.
The publication series intercalations: a paginated exhibition, initiated by the curators’ network SYNAPSE, examines the potential of the book as a form of exhibition, questioning traditional dialectical categories such as culture/nature, human/non-human and subject/object.
“We are poised at the verge of a paradigm shift in narrating, questioning, observing and researching nature and technology.
"This is shown in The Anthropocene Project. A Report, especially pointedly by the Anthropocene Working Group’s participation in A Matter Theater: A group of renowned international scientists takes up the challenge of social debate in the framework of an artistic format. With the Anthropocene Curriculum, prestigious scientists have additionally taken on the task—with HKW as a catalyst—of breaking through the traditional boundaries of knowledge production ... ”
– Director Bernd M. Scherer
The Anthropocene Project >
Ida Applebroog, Monalisa (detail of work in progress).
The Discovery of Ida Appelbroog's Vagina Drawings
In 1969, Bronx-born Ida Applebroog was living in southern California with her husband and four children. Over the course of several weeks that year Applebroog also brought sketchpads to the bathroom and drew her own naked body — specifically her crotch — from reflections in a mirror.
Ida Appelbroog >>
Fan containing musical quotation and autograph of Puccini, James Fuld Collection; 284918. detail.
Celebrating 150 Years since Giacomo Puccini's Birth
The life and art of one of Giacomo Puccini, are celebrated on the 150th anniversary of Puccini’s birth in Lucca, Italy, on December 22, 1858. Visitors have the rare opportunity to view manuscripts for five Puccini works: Le Villi, Edgar, La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, and La Fanciulla del West.
Robert Brackman, Somewhere in America, 1934, Oil on canvas, detail.
1934 and the Government's Public Works Art Program
In 1934, Americans grappled with an economic situation that feels all too familiar today. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the U.S. government created the Public Works of Art Program — the first federal government program to support the arts nationally.
New Deal >>
Larissa Sansour, A Space Exodus, 2009, detail.
When Systems Fail, Fallout and Disengagement
What does it look like when systems change? This question is the theme of the exhibition Fall Out at Malmö Konsthall and GL Holte. In their works, the participating artists examine how social, political and economic systems work — and what happens when systems change.
Relating Earlier Work to More Recent Oeuvre
Since 2008, Haus der Kunst has presented monographic exhibition surveys of important contemporary artists, exploring specific aspects of these artists' works and development over the span of their careers. Examples of such include "Travelling 70-76", which presented many of Robert Rauschenberg's rarely seen works made of cardboard and fabric; Gerhard Richter's "Abstract aintings" which explored for the first time this dominant work group independently; and the Ellsworth Kelly retrospective "Black and White."
In the Fall of 2014 Haus der Kunst continues this series of investigations, dedicating a comprehensive solo exhibition to the work of Georg Baselitz. The exhibition offers an illuminating examination of works that span fifty years. This presentation focuses on a number of recurring motifs and themes, such as the figure and the eagle, that have been essential to the development of the artist's work: the more recent group of the "Black Paintings" and the monumental bronze sculptures, investigating their formal and thematic origins in the artist's early work.
In the "Black Paintings" Baselitz has augmented his pictorial language with a further radical turn, one that aims toward the elimination of all visible contrasts and reveals an almost somnambulic mastery of his material. His fluid, circling brushwork exerts a magnetism in whose force-field the motif merges totally with the background. All the eruptive quality of his painting is still present, although it appears magically calmed, as if under a membrane. Vehemence turns into repose – but this is a repose that, far from superseding excitation, renders it all the more sublime. The works — in identical vertical format with the exception of two horizontal paintings — subtly differentiate the eagle motif in such a way that their identifying traits are all but concealed. Although the depicted motif is submerged in a light-absorbing darkness, the paintings are by no means colorless. Instead, the inverted image of an eagle in flight is executed in a chromatic sonority of dark tones consisting of blue, brown, and gray ranging to black.
The monumental bronze sculptures that he produced beginning in 2011 display formal and contextual references which, alongside figurative references, simultaneously relativize the pictorial function of the figurative and the photographic reversal. These sculptures, all of them bearing a black patina, appear just as 'obscured' as the "Black Paintings", produced at the same time. The sculptures invoke figurative themes that were coined in Baselitz's paintings; they allude to art-historical and biographical fields of reference. An especially plastic link is detectable in the "BDM Gruppe" (BDM Group; 2012), in which Baselitz mixes iconographic references with personal motifs. The space of meaning of the three figures is overlaid by recollected experiences, in relation to which the tradition of the "Three Graces" appears in contrast almost preposterous in formal terms: the figural group makes reference to Baselitz's memories of his sister, who was a member of the BDM (Bund Deutscher Mädel), the female branch of the National Socialist youth organization. In "Sing Sang Zero" (2011), the figural group would be readily identifiable as a double portrait of Elke and Georg Baselitz through the familiarity of the expressive gesture of the linked arms. In the most recent bronze sculpture, "Zero Ende" two skulls are linked together in a form that resembles a dumbbell that is surrounded by seven rings, symbolizing the cycle of a joint life.
Georg Baselitz >
Georg Baselitz, Vorwärts im Mai, detail, 2012, Oil on canvas, Private collection, © Georg Baselitz, 2014, Photo: Jochen Littkemann.