Artists as Catalysts
The Polytechnic Museum in Moscow and Ars Electronica Linz invite visitors to partake of a stimulating encounter with important issues having to do with our planet. Visitors become researchers in EARTH LAB, a fascinating mix of exhibits, participative infographics and a discursive ancillary program. The artworks are designed to stimulate creative processes and encourage people to look at the Earth from a very different perspective for a change. But the site of this rethinking process isn’t a museum or some other established institution; it’s the basement of the mothballed Red October chocolate factory in the heart of Moscow.
Red October chocolate factory, Moscow, Russia
June 22, 2016 – September 25, 2016
Of course, a laboratory is a place that isn’t usually open to the public. It’s where specialized knowledge culminates in the hope of generating new insights. The experiments conducted in labs aren’t always successful and their aim isn’t necessarily to promote the general wellbeing. Furthermore, the intentions and agendas behind these research initiatives are tremendously wide-ranging. Nevertheless, a lab’s mission is always the same: generating new knowledge.
So then, let’s put our heads together and conduct a thought experiment:
- What if we consider our planet to be a laboratory?
- What are the facts & circumstances, what are the challenges and issues we’re facing, and which methods of arriving at insights can we apply?
- To what extent do we understand our world?
- Can we come up with fictional theses and utopias for a shared future, and isn’t it even the case that such experiments are essential to the rethinking process at a time in which everyone’s talking about change?
- For instance, why aren’t we snacking on insect bars now that nutritional as well as environmental considerations suggest that this is the way to go?
- And in light of the fact that the number of cells that make up the human body is only a tenth of the number of bacteria living in and on it, than is it perhaps the case that microorganisms are what ultimately govern the human species?
- Are flies the garbage-busters of the future, and might artificial leaves counteract the increasing pollution of our air?
- What sort of noise does the Earth make, how does its “pulse” sound, and why is it revolving slower and slower?
These and many other questions occupy our attention in EARTH LAB, along with the artists whose experimental approaches are meant to catapult us beyond run-of-the-mill trains of thought and thereby enable us to view our world from a fresh perspective or reconceive it altogether. And these artists are also the ones who are critically questioning whose interests are behind the generation of new knowledge, who’s supporting which experiments, and what knowledge is being made public and what’s being hushed up.
- Ars Electronica Blog: In this interview, the two curators, Natalia Fuchs and Manuela Naveau, brief us about this remarkable lab on the underground level of Moscow’s Red October chocolate factory.
- Polytech Museum Moscow – EARTH LAB
Curators of the EARTH LAB: Manuela Naveau, Natalia Fuchs
Russian commission co-curator: Alexey Shcherbina
Frame program co-curators: Natalia Fuchs, Alexey Shcherbina
Project manager: Anna Firainer
Technical direction: Klaus Dieterstorfer
Technical support: SilaSveta, Gustavo Valera
Infographics: Stefan Eibelwimmer, Nicolas Naveau
Coordination: Fedor Vladimirov
A project supported by Austrian Cultural Forum Moscow