A huge boulder hangs by a rope from the ceiling. As soon as the sun shines, it starts to rotate on its own axis. «DETAIL» is an installation by the Belgian theatre artist Kris Verdonck, presented for the first time at this year’s Kunstfest. A closed cycle of fascinating, but only apparent simplicity. In the tension between poetry and technology, weight and movement, mass and energy, the installation makes reference to fundamental questions of life. The rotating boulder thus becomes a symbol for acceleration and exhaustion, progress and ephemerality. Walter Gropius predicted that human ability to alter nature could become so enormous, that what we gain through technological advances might no longer be in proportion to what we could lose.
Apparatus of Heat and Cold
Most people nowadays are increasingly uncertain about nature and technology, what they have in common and what they don’t, what they are and what they aren’t. Humans and their technical surroundings are inextricably interwoven and often even coalesce. We interact more and more every day with technical devices and systems. Since the Bauhaus and especially since the beginning of the 21st century, we are finding it harder to answer the question of what nature is. While scholars in the 1920s described the strengthening ties between humans and technology in more aesthetic-visionary terms, today in the age of digitalisation it has become clearer than ever how interconnected we are with technology and how impossible it has become to sever those ties. If everything is design, then what is nature?
The project «Apparatus of Heat and Cold – Bauhaus Attempting Balance» has been investigating the historical Bauhaus in Weimar and its impact on contemporary art and culture in various exhibitions, a publication and discussion forums since 2018. This year, the project curators have invited four internationally known artists and artist collectives to explore the uncertainties and potentials arising from humantechnical existence, and by extension, the cultural and intellectual temperatures and concept of nature at the Bauhaus. While the events in 2018 focused on heat and cold in relation to Bauhaus colours and colour theory, form-building and design, and balances and imbalances in their diverse aesthetic and social facets, this year’s project applies heat and cold to the understanding of nature at the Bauhaus.
In three consecutive short exhibitions and one continuous video installation, as well as discussions and a publication, we ask how we can grasp the phenomenon of what we call nature by using the insights of the Bauhaus. What is nature in view of the apparent superiority and ubiquity of technical systems?