August 18, 2015 - Museum für Naturkunde Berlin - Art/Nature
August 18, 2015


Photo: Carola Radke, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.

Artistic interventions by A K Dolven, Saâdane Afif, Sabine Scho & Andreas Töpfer

August 28–November 29, 2015

Opening: August 27, 7:30pm

Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science
Invalidenstr. 43
10115 Berlin
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What happens when contemporary art encounters natural history collections, museum practice and research? Art/Nature is an international model project initiated by the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and the German Federal Cultural Foundation, inviting artists to create new works by exploring a natural history museum.  

Natural history museums have always been places where the study of nature has involved artists. By accompanying expeditions, artists have contributed towards telling the story of life on Earth, recording and depicting what they have seen as well as documenting the collections and representing nature in exhibitions. 

In line with this tradition, the project Art/Nature has been launched exploring the interaction between contemporary art and natural history museums. The project invites artists to give their own interpretation of the research museum, its history, and its collections. Art/Nature aims to transcend the communicative barriers between the domain of contemporary art and that of the natural history museum in order to open up fresh perspectives both on nature and on museum culture. The first series of interventions presents works by A K Dolven, Saâdane Afif, Sabine Scho & Andreas Töpfer.

A K Dolven’s intervention echo echo takes place in two rooms, using the media of water and air. Working with the museum, Dolven intensified her ongoing research into the sound of Arctic cod by organizing an expedition to the Arctic Ocean. At the Norwegian Austnesfjord, the artist and Karl-Heinz Frommolt, curator of the Animal Sound Archive, made underwater recordings of the mating calls of cod. The result is an audio journey of discovery, with the short, abrupt humming noise of the fish muffled by the underwater sound environment. Dolven also spent several days with the museum’s collection of birds. The aura of the birds, silenced in old vitrines, blended with the voices of staff members relating their experiences. Dolven turned this into a prose poem with ten voices. Oscillating between the perspective of a human and a bird, the sound performance tells of transitional moments, migration, and uncertainty. (Curator: Gaby Hartel)

Saâdane Afif’s intervention announces the end of the world. Employing a number of temporal and transient aspects of art, a central feature of his oeuvre is the idea that the process of creating a work of art lasts as long as the exhibition itself. While the museum collects and studies natural objects from all over the world, Afif has developed the metaphor of a museum as a world with its own structures, wishes, and conflicts. He leaves a visible trace in the form of posters announcing the performance Das Ende der Welt (The End of the World) on the last day of the exhibition (29 November). One inevitably wonders which world is coming to an end: the real world, the metaphorical world of the museum, or some other world which has been so thoroughly investigated and eroded that it comes to an end devoid of substance. A work in collaboration with the composer Augustin Maurs. (Curatorial Adviser: Juan Gaitán)

The meaning that Darwin attributed to life on Earth was that no species can survive independently. This is the notion behind the poetic intervention The Origin of Senses by author Sabine Scho and graphic artist Andreas Töpfer, investigating how different organisms perceive themselves and the world around them through their senses. Their poems and drawings try to convey the confusion about senses when people take a closer look at animals, since the gateways for stimuli are as varied as the species themselves. The way receptors are distributed and formed for light, temperature, balance, taste and smell, as well as individual sensations such as position and movement in space, pain, and organ activity may differ from species to species, but ever more scientific studies are deducing the presence of such receptors in almost every living creature. The Origin of Senses enters into a dialogue with exhibits around the museum. (Curator: Cord Riechelmann)

Head of project: Anita Hermannstädter/coordination: Yori Schultka: kunst [​at​]

Media contact: Gesine Steiner: gesine.steiner [​at​]

Museum für Naturkunde presents Art/Nature
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
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