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Closer Look at Schinkel Pavilion’s New Exhibition With Curator Nina Pohl

Curator Nina Pohl talks about the exhibition, environmental issues and the future of Schinkel Pavilion. 

Sun Rise | Sun Set, exhibition view Schinkel Pavillon
© Schinkel Pavillon and the artists, Photo: Andrea Rossetti

Dedicated to climate change, the exhibition “Sun Rise – Sun Set” at the Schinkel Pavillon brings together contemporary and modern artistes to form a multi-layered response to the fast unfolding eco-catastrophe.

DSCENE Editor Katarina Djoric sits down with the Curator Nina Pohl to talk about the exhibition, environmental issues and the future of Schinkel Pavilion. 

Read the interview after the jump:

Sun Rise | Sun Set, exhibition view Schinkel Pavillon
© Schinkel Pavillon and the artists, Photo: Andrea Rossetti

Does the title “Sun Rise | Sun Set” embody a certain message?
The rising and setting sun may visualize a certain sentiment of our present time, which is marked by the ecological crisis and the globally rampant pandemic – a threshold state that hovers between brightness and darkness, between a possible catastrophe and the potential of a new beginning. At the same time, the motif refers to the notion of a circle, the circle of becoming and perishing by which all forms of life are determined and equalized.

Sun Rise | Sun Set, exhibition view Schinkel Pavillon
© Schinkel Pavillon and the artists, Photo: Andrea Rossetti

What motivated you to do this exhibition?
The climate catastrophe is the greatest crisis of our time. And yet it is incredibly abstract. With the means of art, we intend to create a space of experience that allow a certain understanding and reflection. Of course, there are many exhibitions that revolve around the topic of climate change. Nevertheless, we saw the need to create an exhibition that goes beyond a didactic discussion and encourage a more physical and intuitive confrontation with the challenges of our times.

Sun Rise | Sun Set, exhibition view Schinkel Pavillon
© Schinkel Pavillon and the artists, Photo: Malina Heinemann

What are the main issues the exhibition is addressing?
SUN RISE | SUN SET is dedicated to a present that is significantly shaped and disrupted by the ecological crisis. In view of the man-made drastic changes of our planet, we are in urgent need to rethink our worldview and reconfigure human’s role on the planet. Therefore, the exhibition emphasizes the indissoluble relationship between us and our non-human environment and thereby emphasizes the multi-layered interdependencies that are integral to understanding and implementing a sustainable future and healthy coexistence. For these purposes, the Schinkel Pavillon has been transformed into a surreal landscape. The exhibition thereby refers to the artistic movement of surrealism in the first third of the 20th century, whose understanding of the world and art was significantly influenced by the crises of two world wars. The notions of dream and nightmare, longing and fear, hope and resignation, catastrophe and recreation which were expressed in the works of the surrealists, equally characterizes the exhibition. These hovering moments were in the past and are today signs of a crisis-disrupted time – a recurring motif, which brings us back to our key curatorial idea of the circle.

Sun Rise | Sun Set, exhibition view Schinkel Pavillon
© Schinkel Pavillon and the artists, Photo: Malina Heinemann 

How did you choose the participating artists? What do they have in common?
We have brought together works from different decades and centuries which each depict its unique and time-specific idea of the human’s relationship to their non-human environment. Therefore, all works provide a deeper understanding of the historically grown entanglement of the relationship between human-nature, or rather nature and culture.

Sun Rise | Sun Set, exhibition view Schinkel Pavillon
© Schinkel Pavillon and the artists, Photo: Andrea Rossetti

The press release says the exhibition aims to reconfigure our relations to the Earth. Do the exhibited works offer some kind of solution or are they just addressing the problem?
Both apply. On the one hand, there are works that directly point toward the exploitation of people and nature or draw attention to the interrelationship between humans and their non-human environment and the resulting devastating ecological effects. On the other hand, there are works, like Neri Oxman’s Melanin Library (2019), that show alternative approaches to a sustainable future, in which manmade structures are thought in harmony with the ecosystem they inhabit. Furthermore, the cross-generational approach enables a retrospection on the historically grown alienation of humans from his non-human environment and therefore hopefully create a greater awareness and reflection of human’s present and future role.

Sun Rise | Sun Set, exhibition view Schinkel Pavillon
© Schinkel Pavillon and the artists, Photo: Andrea Rossetti

Do you think it is the place of art to talk about environment-related issues? Do you think that art can help raise awareness of these issues?
Absolutely. Art has the unique ability to make the sentiments, challenges and ambivalences of its time tangible. Especially today, art plays an immensely important role, as it is able to not only visualize a crisis-ridden time but also make questionable what determines our present in a most unique way.

Sun Rise | Sun Set, exhibition view Schinkel Pavillon
© Schinkel Pavillon and the artists, Photo: Andrea Rossetti

What do you hope the viewers will learn from this exhibition?
With the exhibition we do not want to accuse the misbehavior of our species. But still we hope to obtain an awareness of humans alienation of nature as the ‘Other’ – which we know, is a highly problematic attitude towards the world. We must understand that we are part of a whole, that everything reacts to and depends on each other, and that human do not have an overriding role in this cycle.

Sun Rise | Sun Set, exhibition view Schinkel Pavillon
© Schinkel Pavillon and the artists, Photo: Andrea Rossetti

What’s next for Schinkel Pavillion?
We are planning a dialogical exhibition for fall in which we confront works by the late Swiss artist HR Giger (b.1940- d. 2014) – who most people will know as the mastermind behind the Alien monster from the famous 1980s movies – with newly commissioned sculptures by the young emerging Korean artist Mire Lee (b.1988) who is using simple, industrial materials, such as cables, silicone, ropes and steel rods, which she assembles into kinetic post-apocalyptic objects.

Sun Rise | Sun Set, exhibition view Schinkel Pavillon
© Schinkel Pavillon and the artists, Photo: Andrea Rossetti

Sun Rise | Sun Set exhibition is on view from 27 February to 25 July 2021.

Participating artists: Monira Al Qadiri, Karl Blossfeldt, Dora Budor, Max Ernst, Joan Fontcuberta, Karrabing Film Collective, Max Hooper Schneider, Pierre Huyghe, Emma Kunz, Richard Oelze, Precious Okoyomon, Neri Oxman, Jean Painlevé, Pamela Rosenkranz, Rachel Rose, Henri Rousseau, Torbjørn Rødland, Ryūichi Sakamoto, Anj Smith

Curated by Nina Pohl & Agnes Gryczkowska
Curatorial assistence by Kerstin Renerig

The Schinkel Pavillon is an art institution with a rather exceptional history in the center of Berlin. Run by Nina Pohl, the Schinkel provides a platform for contemporary sculpture, installation, and media art. The varying exhibitions often take up a position towards the peculiarity of the pavilion’s distinctive architecture.

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