2 Min Lesezeit
Ludwig von Hofmannm Paradise Lost (Adam and Eve), 1893, oil on canvas, 130 × 195 cm, Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, Photo: Linda Breidert
Constant, Klein Labyr, 1959, metal, Plexiglas, wood, oil paint, chalk, 70 x 35 x 56 cm , Kunstmuseum Den Haag, © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2023, Photo: Tom Haartsen

Whether individualism or consumerism, climate change, species extinction or digitalisation – various upheavals are taking place in today’s societies. Our reality is characterised by the fact that living spaces, relationships and habits that have long been considered stable and secure are under threat. Demands for fundamental change are becoming increasingly urgent. The exhibition “We is Future – Visions of New Communities” at the Museum Folkwang in Essen from 24 November to 17 March 2024 therefore asks how the seemingly unchangeable can be rethought, which “we” can be our future and which new forms of living together are worth striving for. According to the announcement, “historical and current artistic ideas for alternative forms of coexistence” will be explored, with “a turn towards nature or trust in technical innovations” linking the different positions. Each chapter of the show marks a historical fault line. On display are 185 works of painting, sculpture, graphics, video and performance. The presentation will culminate in a temple-like installation created especially for the exhibition by architect and artist Yussef Agbo-Ola (Olaniyi Studio).

It begins at the end of the 19th century, when the negative consequences of industrialisation and urbanisation were already becoming apparent, but counter-movements and alternatives were also emerging, hoping for a liberated life in harmony with nature. After the horrors of the First World War, Bruno Taut and Wenzel Hablik called for a new way of building for a new society in their designs for crystalline architecture. Taut not only found a supporter in Karl Ernst Osthaus, the founder of the Museum Folkwang; the connection was also fruitful in terms of educational policy and led to the conception of Osthaus’ favourite project: a reform school. A separate chapter is dedicated to the work complex “New Babylon” by the Dutch artist Constant, who designed a new modular and flexible living environment in paintings, drawings and models from 1956 to 1974. This is followed by Superstudio’s gigantic structural reform of the planet, Anna Halprin’s ritual “Planetary Dance”, “Afrofuturism”, the hippie modernism of the 1970s and 1980s and other visions of an alternative life. The final chapter shows works by contemporary artists who thematise a new connection with nature and all living beings and confront historical positions with questions of the present.

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