FORSTER 1754–2015

FORSTER 1754–2015

Kunsthalle Mainz

John Webber, Intérieur d’un Morais d’Atooi, 1785.

October 2, 2015

FORSTER 1754–2015
Lothar Baumgarten / Camille Henrot / Friedemann von Stockhausen

October 2, 2015–January 24, 2016
Opening: October 1, 7pm

Kunsthalle Mainz
Am Zollhafen 3-5
55118 Mainz
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 10am–6pm, Wednesday 10am–9pm,
Saturday–Sunday 11am–6pm
T +49 6131/12 69 36
F +49 6131/12 69 37
mail [​at​]

“Above all else it should be noted that we frequently view the same things from a range of perspectives, and that the same events can often generate the most different ideas.”

These are the words of Georg Adam Forster (1754–94), the scholar and progressive Republican thinker who worked as a librarian in Mainz between 1788 and 1792. At the tender age of 17, he accompanied his father, Reinhold Forster, on Captain James Cook’s second voyage around the globe. What Georg experienced and observed during those three years was to shape his entire view of the world. He made detailed drawings capturing the flora, fauna, and landscapes, set up an extensive herbarium containing plant samples, collected (along with his father) everyday objects from various cultures, and upon his return wrote a work which is still acclaimed: A Voyage Round the World.

What is very clearly expressed in all these sources of information is his exceptional talent for observation and his impartiality towards other cultures, for he was primarily interested in people as individuals and the way they were incorporated into the landscape, the natural world, the state, and history. His greatest dream was of a civilization where free and egalitarian cooperation prevailed. 

Forster’s enduring approach to observing the world also allows us to draw conclusions about our present-day world and the state it is in. Nowadays, we no longer need a voyage around the world to be confronted with differences. Otherness—everything that is strange or foreign or unknown to us—is located within and all around us, in social interactions, in conflicts, and in crises. Nonetheless, any encounter with the unknown is challenging for the observer, and any disruption to familiarity increases the sum of our experience.

FORSTER 1754–2015 presents Georg Forster’s multifaceted legacy and travels in an exhibition that explores issues surrounding encounters with the unknown and the resulting effects on and interactions with our own culture. The exhibition attempts to view and depict Georg Forster’s approaches and perceptions of the world (which are even more urgently needed today) from contemporary perspectives. Following Forster’s universalist ideas, the exhibition brings together ethnographic, botanical, historical, and contemporary objects and concepts: things that somehow belong together or complement one another in terms of their form or content. Three contemporary artists—Lothar Baumgarten, Camille Henrot, and Friedemann von Stockhausen—take a look at Georg Forster, his legacy, and the continuing validity of his empathetic and visionary approach to the world, transforming the venue’s three exhibition rooms into spaces for thought and perception. 

Curated by: Stefanie Böttcher, Trevor Smith and Thomas D. Trummer

Events and lectures:
Wednesday, October 14, 7pm
Exhibition talk with Anna-Maria Brandstetter and Stefanie Böttcher

Sunday, October 25, 2:30pm
Georg Forster City Guided Tour  

Wednesday, November 4, 7pm
Lecture by Jürgen Goldstein 

Friday, November 20, 10am–10pm
Marathon reading: Georg Forster—A Voyage Round the World on the occasion of the Bundesweiter Vorlesetag

Tuesday, December 1, 7pm
Screening: Lothar Baumgarten Ursprung der Nacht (1973–77, 102 minutes) in the CinéMayence 

Wednesday, December 16, 7pm
Exhibition tour with Thomas D. Trummer

Wednesday, January 13, 7pm
Screening: Camille Henrot Coupé/Décalé and Million Dollars Point

Wednesday, January 20, 7pm
Panel discussion on the occasion of the exhibition with Prof. Dr. Frank E.P. Dievernich, Eva Raabe, Cornelia Spohn and Martina Mattick-Stiller 

Spring 2016
Conversation and screening hosted by Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA and Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

A catalogue accompanying the exhibition FORSTER 1754–2015 will be published, with contributions by Stefanie Böttcher, Trevor Smith and Thomas D. Trummer. 

This project was made possible with the cooperation of Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Peabody Essex Museum Salem, Massachusetts; Weltkulturen Museum Frankfurt am Main; Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Ethnographic Collection of the Georg-August-University Göttingen; and City Archive of Mainz and Institute of Anthropology and African Studies of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz.

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and Kultursommer Rhineland-Palatinate

Fade into You—a series of film screenings
View, drink, and discuss
Wednesday October 21, 7pm
episode XLVIII: Isa Rosenberger, Vladimir’s Journey (The Captain), 2013

Wednesday November 11, 7pm
episode XLIX: Marcel Dzama, Death Disco Dance, 2011

Wednesday December 2, 7pm
episode L: Monika Huber, Captured, 2014 / Mwangi Hutter, The Cage, 2009

Wednesday December 23, 7pm
episode LI: Stan Douglas, Suspiria, 2003

RSVP for FORSTER 1754–2015
Kunsthalle Mainz
October 2, 2015

Thank you for your RSVP.

Kunsthalle Mainz will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.