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Thought Exhibition: The significance of Bruno Latour's art exhibition concept for his work and as a model for art institutions

Project description

Arts’ capacity to address social and ecological issues

During four exhibitions at the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, the French philosopher Bruno Latour, known for his work in the field of science and technology studies, and Austrian post-conceptual artist Peter Weibel developed the concept of ‘thought exhibition’ (TE). This is a curatorial method based on the aesthetic and participatory capacity of the arts to address critical issues such as climate change. The EU-funded THOUGHT EXHIBITION project investigates the TE concept to obtain new insights into Latour’s work. The project will demonstrate the significance of TEs for this work and provide a conceptual framework for the role of the arts in facilitating engaging narratives on ecologically and socially critical issues.

Objective

The research project investigates the concept of “thought exhibition” (TE), a curatorial approach developed by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel during four exhibitions at ZKM | Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (Germany). Following Latour’s work in philosophy and science & technology studies (STS) the art exhibitions aim at challenging the dualistic mentality (nature/culture, object/subject, etc.) fostered by European modernity which is, according to Latour, at the heart of current crises such as climate change. TEs engage visitors in a “spatio-aesthetic thought experiment” by bringing them into a position where they can question modern preconceptions, such as the domination of culture over nature or the notion of objective distance towards phenomena, and encourage them to develop alternatives. The project will gain new insights into Latour’s work in philosophy and STS by demonstrating the significance of TEs for this work. It will also provide a conceptual framework for the role of the arts in facilitating engaging narratives on ecologically/socially critical issues. In particular, the project will investigate Latour’s concepts of “hybrids”, artefacts which cannot be put distinctively in categories of nature or culture, transgressing the dualistic distinctions, and of “compositionism”, a relational way of juxtaposing objects and actors in the exhibition space. The research will be carried out by reviewing published and, at the ZKM archive, unpublished material, by analysing ZKM visitor surveys and by conducting interviews with Latour, Weibel, co-curators and ZKM staff, all of whom have pledged to fully support the project. Despite the relevance of both Latour’s work and ZKM as a leading art museum, little research on the TE concept has been done so far. The project wants to thoroughly investigate this curatorial approach which builds on the aesthetic and participatory capacity of the arts to address crucial issues and to activate individuals for processes of change.

Coordinator

KOBENHAVNS UNIVERSITET
Net EU contribution
€ 207 312,00
Address
NORREGADE 10
1165 Kobenhavn
Denmark

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Region
Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 207 312,00