like the movie Soylent Green Released in 1973, 2022 seemed a long way off. There is no human flesh to eat now, but the environmental catastrophe is undeniable. What does the movie still have to tell us today? An exhibition in Berlin Tiergarten is devoted to these and other questions.
Der Freitag: Mr. Wellman, I chose Soylent Green as the starting point for the exhibition, a film from 1973 about a densely populated world. why?
Mark Wellman: By chance, we saw this movie again, which is set in the year 2022. That’s when you sit down and pay attention – this is our present as the movie imagined it 50 years ago. In other words, we have come to the future. The problems that were being negotiated at the time now play a major role. Then we looked at the context of that time. At the beginning of the decade 1970, Earth Day was celebrated for the first time, 1972 is the report of the Club of Rome growth limits Back. Then the environmental organization Greenpeace was founded in Canada, and that was the beginning of the environmental movement, which now continues in a variant form of Friday for Future or Extinction Rebellion. This was the beginning of a collective rethink. At the same time, in December 1972, the last Apollo mission took place. That was the last time man walked on the moon, and in this mission a famous photo of our planet was taken.
What is the effect of this image?
It shows the “terrestrial spaceship,” as the American architect R. Buckminster Fuller, Her Weaknesses Amid Blackness. We have no second land. Many utopias revolve around being able to get off the planet, but first we have to come to terms with the situation, and that goes back to the mentality of the early 1970s. text Soylent Green Based on a 1966 novel that actor Charlton Heston read on a transcontinental voyage.
Charlton Heston isn’t exactly known as a hippie these days.
However, in the 1960s he was a civil rights activist and interested in environmental issues. Back then, after the baby boom decade, the existential fear was overpopulation. Today, the growth trajectory is weakening in all Western societies, but there is a similar feeling, albeit with regard to climate catastrophe. This is a strong associative space. The works in the gallery are costly to her, and that’s the idea behind her. The question is: How do we look at the future of this chip?
How did you come up with this idea?
I developed this with painter Philip Grozinger when we were talking about the future after Corona. Philip himself contributed a work deriving from his own vocabulary – a tubular structure, a system in which we are technically intertwined.
Were many works done specifically for the exhibition?
It’s a mixture, we have historical and new works. For example, Maxim Brandt, a young Ukrainian artist, refers to Arnold Bucklins death island That puts it in a miserable scenario. In the nineteenth century, after industrialization had long taken hold, nature was again embellished and integrated into an ideal world that had nothing to do with reality. Another panel of a charred skeleton appears on the horizon.
Mark Wellman He received his Ph.D. in 2004 on the relationship between art and science and was gallery director at the Georg Kolbe Museum from 2008 to 2012. Since 2013, he has been artistic director at Haus am Lützowplatz, where he now directs the gallery for survival selected
It reminds us of romance.
Exactly, this reference is very important here: the male figure from the back comes from Caspar David Friedrich, but the scene is burnt.
Many young artists are represented in the show, “Soylent Green” comes from a time they have not tried. How do they react?
When you approach artists with an idea like this, you realize if they can relate to it – and many of the questions that arose at the time are still very relevant today. Nina E. Schönefeld created a trilogy of near-future fiction that tackles very similar issues: it’s about environmental activism and a company that is in complete control of food production. Then you acquire this story from a female perspective.
Are there also historical works in the exhibition?
Artist Bettina von Arnim, for example, worked in the 1970s. She was environmentally conscious and critical and used illustrations of science fiction and pop art: cyborgs and giant creatures appear, and there are dystopian landscapes. For this we chose two of her paintings. Other historical works are Pictures of Michael Schmidt, from a series created between 2006 and 2010. It deals with food, its production, and the killing of animals needed for it.
What is left of the movie in this exhibition?
Not everything specifically refers to the movie, but some trappings have been carried over to the present. An example of this is a picture of Louisa Clement attachment disorder From 2021, a work based on a series of self-portraits of the artist. She herself performed 3D scanning and transmitted data to dolls. In fact, it is a process for the production of sex dolls. Sweeps can be used to create a negative mold into which the silicone shell is poured. It puts a lot of technology into the puppets, as well as artificial intelligence, which Clement has answered thousands of questions about. This allows visitors to interact with the doll and in the process continue to learn and develop the character. This is also a feminist empowerment of the masculine fantasies for which these dolls were originally built, and this in turn relates to the Pygmalion legend about the male artist who fell in love with his creation. We have a picture of a doll holding a baby. If you look closely, they are very scary! The theme of reproduction is turned on, a kind of Pinocchio complex. The doll becomes aware of itself, but remains a doll.
How do artists think about the environment today?
Take Katya Novitskova. It has been dealing with biodiversity in recent years. She became known for the incisors, whose expansion – in this case it’s the California condor, which lived only in captivity and then was released back into the wild – had both tourist and religious motives. However, many other species are extinct and we do not consider them important. Another example comes from Mette Riise, a young Danish artist. Her video is all about finding the FC Roma report and realizing that nothing has really happened since. Then you look for one of the authors who gets rid of them. This is kind of ironic. There is something tragic humor about the movie.
The grim reality genre is already on the show. Or is there also a utopian element to the show?
Yes, for example in Bjorn Milhaus’ video. Everything will be fine in the end: after the epidemic and war are over, a virus enters our heads that makes us altruistic. Unfortunately not a reasonable scenario! In the show, we are challenged to think of ourselves and see ourselves as actors rather than passive consumers. It is about reaching maturity and developing hope from it.
for survival. Questions about the future Haus am Lützowplatz, from September 15, 2022 to January 8, 2023