• MACHT NATUR: an exhibition that asks questions

Bioeconomy can be found in many aspects of our lives nowadays. The exhibition MACHT NATUR at STATE Studio in Berlin focuses on the discomfort that many of us experience when faced with human intervention in nature. It is an interactive laboratory for visitors to get hands-on and experiment, but it's also designed to stimulate thought and discussion.

Raspberry flavour from bacteria, car tyres from dandelions, antibiotics from ladybirds, building materials from mushrooms: Bioeconomy now affects almost all aspects of our lives. In view of global challenges such as climate change, the extinction of species, and overpopulation and the associated shortage of resources and usable space, science is looking for new strategies and solutions for a sustainable economy. Above all, the goal is to avoid the use of fossil fuels in the future. Bioeconomy uses algae, bacteria, and other microorganisms to produce products and materials on an organic basis. The boundaries between humans, nature, and technology are blurring as our ideas, lifestyles, and demands change.

©Anne Freitag

Examples from research translated into real-world scenarios

The exhibition MACHT NATUR, which will be shown from 13 August to 12 September 2020 at STATE Studio on Berlin's Hauptstraße, invites visitors to find their own point of view on the innovations, potentials, and risks of bioeconomy. The starting point is the feeling of discomfort towards human intervention in nature. The title deliberately plays with ambiguity, because nature not only has power ("Macht") over us, it also “makes” ("macht"), i.e. produces and has a lasting effect. And humans also exercise power ("Macht") over nature.

In terms of content, the exhibition presents the results of nine workshops that took place in 2019 as part of a three-year research project at the Universität der Künste (UdK). For the project Farming the Uncanny Valley , locations both rural and urban were selected and staged to reveal contradictions between man's understanding and dealing with nature. Examples from current biotechnology research have been translated into various real-world scenarios. The idea here was to make a future shaped by the bioeconomy as something that people could experience and discuss today.

An example of such a scenario: in a former factory building, so-called "industrial bumblebees" were used to pollinate plants in greenhouses. Participants in the workshop were led individually into the room and then asked to reflect on their emotions and thoughts. During the workshop, it was explained that the farmed bumblebees are usually killed after pollination so that they do not mix and mate with wild bumblebees.

©Stefan Schwabe

A journey of discovery through four thematic areas

Conceptually, the exhibition sees itself as a living laboratory that encourages people not only to participate, touch, and experiment, but also to think and discuss. Visitors move through almost 300 square metres of exhibitions on four topics: insects, plants, soil, and air. They move past hydroponic plants and greenhouses through mosquito nets and fog. Walk-in installations make the workshop locations even more tangible. With the help of short videos, everyday examples, and images of the future, visitors can playfully immerse themselves in different perspectives. 

"We invite visitors to share their thoughts on the statements and discussions of the participants in the workshops," says designer Jannis Hülsen, who, together with his partner Stefan Schwabe, has designed and implemented the exhibition as part of their research project. "Our aim is to use these results to exchange ideas with scientists and policymakers and to maintain this dialogue in the long term, also locally." Jannis Hülsen tells more about the exhibition in the 3rd LNDW podcast.

MACHT NATUR takes place in the context of the Science Year on Bioeconomy initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and Wissenschaft im Dialog (WiD). An interdisciplinary team from the fields of design, art, social and natural sciences realised the exhibition. "Farming the Uncanny Valley" is a project of the University of the Arts in cooperation with Fraunhofer Umsicht, STATE Studio, and YOU.SE. It is funded by the BMBF. (vdo)

Further Information


MACHT NATUR Exhibition

13 August to 12 September 2020

STATE Studio, Hauptstraße 3, 10827 Berlin

Opening times:
Tuesday to Friday 12 noon to 7 pm
Saturday/Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm

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