Frankfurter Kunstverein

Trees of Life - Stories for a Damaged Planet

10 Oct 2019 - 19 Jan 2020

Dominique Koch, Holobiont Society, 2017, ©Dominique Koch / Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
Participating Artists: Sonja Bäumel, Studio Drift, Edgar Honetschläger, Dominique Koch, with exhibits from the Senckenberg

Opening: Wednesday, October 9, 2019, 7 pm

The Frankfurter Kunstverein is pleased to present the exhibition “Trees of Life – Stories for a Damaged Planet” in collaboration with the Senckenberg Naturmuseum. The exhibition is conceived as an interdisciplinary project that shifts our focus away from a historically accumulated, anthropocentric worldview towards a systemic understanding of humans as part of the evolutionary process.

Throughout human history, there has been a constant attempt to formulate a worldview that transforms in response to observations of reality, the subsequent knowledge gained from them, and individual convictions. New self-conceptions of humanity and the world constantly develop. These are narratives, images, and metaphors that emerge at a specific time and within a specific culture, which come to characterize people’s actions. Today, there is a conflict between opposing worldviews as they struggle for the interests and possible futures of our planet.

Mathematical and economic principles and models of interpretation dominate our image of nature. Numbers, facts and measurements are recorded and processed as “big data” by computers in order to calculate models. This knowledge is of great significance in order to gain knowledge, to create connections and to make ideas of greater causality conceivable. At the same time, purely factual and based on numbers, our understanding does not succeed in returning this knowledge to the subjectivity of being, to the subjectivity of the individual and to his existential experience of life. For example, the term “ecosystem” appears abstract and distant. The term does not reveal how many individual existences and individual destinies, in what contexts and processes and interdependencies that condition themselves, are actually dissolved in this word. The narratives and their interrelationship with the big picture reconnect the abstraction of the numbers and theoretical concepts back to the existences of individuals and merges them together.

Each period and each culture has produced its own models of thought, its own narratives, discarded them again, developed them further or even forgotten and rediscovered them. Knowledge is situational, notes the historian Donna Haraway. Conceptions of reality are bound to the state of knowledge of a time and a culture that conveys persuasions. At the same time they generate structures of power and moral categories.

Extended and perceptible forms of knowledge as a result of the collaboration between art and science was the assumption in the beginning and has given rise to the idea of the exhibition. Frankfurter Kunstverein has invited the artists Sonja Bäumel (Austria, lives and works in Amsterdam), Edgar Honetschläger (Austria, lives and works in Vienna, Rome and Tokyo), Dominique Koch (Switzerland, lives and works in Basel and Paris) and the artists’ duo Studio Drift (Amsterdam). Visitors can expect surprising constellations of contemporary art in dialogue with exhibits from the Senckenberg Collection. The exhibition offers its own narrative thread, that correlates works of art and scientific exhibits.

Curator: Franziska Nori; Scientific advice: Philipe Havlik