Inaugural Exhibition: After Nature
Global environmental changes not only pose a threat to the very basis of our existence; they also alter the political and social structures of societies. The Humboldt Lab’s inaugural exhibition, “After Nature”, addresses the interactions between climate change and biodiversity loss as well as the global crises of democratic principles of order. The title of the exhibition refers both to the destruction of species and ecosystems and to the idea of “learning from nature”. As a modern cabinet of curiosities, the exhibition gathers research approaches to these topical questions and relates them to positions from the history of science.
The exhibition provides an insight into various areas of university work: from the research of the interdisciplinary Clusters of Excellence, which work across the universities, to student projects at individual institutes, from objects in the collections to university archives. Its content will be continuously updated and adapted within the scope of ongoing research projects in close collaboration with researchers from Berlin’s scientific landscape. The exhibition thereby symbolises the process of research, in which findings are ever changing and being expanded by new questions. Visitors thus experience a new exhibition time after time and can actively participate in research processes.
Swarm intelligence and biodiversity: the interactive school of fish
Visitors enter the exhibition through an interactive projection of a school of fish. The school reacts to their movements, retreating from the public and regrouping. This projection points in equal measure to both the sensitivity of ecosystems and biodiversity and the threats these face and the research approaches of the seven Berlin Clusters of Excellence:
These interdisciplinary and cross-university research alliances use the school of fish to introduce us to their work: they think and research as a collective. This is because the global challenges of our present age can only be solved through subjects and institutions coming together.
The research wall: science as dialogue
A projection screen over the entire length of the main hall depicts the close connection between social crises and the crisis of nature, based on current research. Academics from two research alliances enter into a virtual dialogue: the “Contestations of the Liberal Script” (SCRIPTS) Cluster of Excellence explores debates about the liberal model of society in connection with its own inherent contradictions and the gain in strength of anti-liberal models of order. The “Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems” (IRI THESys) works on global sustainability in the face of environmental destruction, species extinction and climate change. The public can participate in the discussion on Twitter.
Research objects: a modern cabinet of curiosities
In the main hall of the Humboldt Lab, objects from various teaching and research contexts hang from the ceiling in movable showcases. Their staging ties in with the history of the university collections of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, which essentially date back to the cabinet of curiosities in the Berlin Palace. The principle of these historical cabinets of curiosities and rarities, so-called cabinets of wonder, was, for one thing, about amazement and the associative connection of different things. Instead of fixed positions, the flexible arrangement of the showcases in the Humboldt Lab causes new and ever-changing connections to be formed between the objects again and again. Histories told by many voices reveal how things and the knowledge associated with them change depending on the point of view.
Three collections with a reciprocal perspective
Following on from the presentation of individual research objects comes a more in-depth engagement with related bundles of objects and their contexts of origination. Three archives of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin are juxtaposed in order to mutually cast light on one another: the Janheinz Jahn Archive with documents on neo-African literature, the Sound Archive with voice recordings of prisoners of war from the two world wars and with historical German dialect recordings, and the Hahne-Niehoff Archive with historical ethnological photographs. This juxtaposition reveals different representations of that of “one’s own” and the “other”, as well as the societal and political contexts of academic collecting.
|Date:||01. Juli 2021|