Following the exhibition GEGENWARTEN | PRESENCES in 2020, a new and extensive public art project titled NEW ECOLOGIES will be hosted in Chemnitz in summer 2024.
The city of Chemnitz has been shaped by its history as an urban centre of industry and workers, and as a centre of textile production and mechanical engineering. ‘Saxon Manchester’, as the city has commonly been called since the 19th century, is a reference on the one hand to the cityscape with its factories and chimneys, and on the other, to the resultant pollution of smoke and grime. The region, which lies at the foot of the Ore Mountains, has, moreover, been one of mining since the 12th century. In 1948, the Soviet-German company Wismut, one of the largest uranium producers in the world, had a head office moved to Chemnitz. At that time, the name ‘Wismut’ was associated with the idea of being on the brink of a new society, of entering the nuclear age, but also with the Cold War and the exploitation of people and the environment, with catastrophic consequences.
Today Wismut is committed to cleaning up the legacy of its former activities, while Chemnitz reflects on its native son Carl von Carlowitz, who is regarded as having invented the concept of ‘sustainability’. Hydrogen research and the search for alternative construction materials are becoming important focal points in research at the Chemnitz University of Technology. This chequered past makes Chemnitz the ideal place for a public art project with the theme of art and climate.
The battle against the climate crisis has become multifaceted and is being fought on countless fronts around the globe. Cultural sectors have also been involved in the climate crisis discourse for quite some time, focussing on our diverse environmental problems. As a social mouthpiece, culture has a strategically important voice in drawing attention to the dangers of the climate crisis. Through its diverse forms of expression, culture is able, for instance, to render abstract facts not just visually, but also emotionally and intellectually tangible.
NEW ECOLOGIES focusses on sustainability, awareness and participation. The project is aimed at making the climate crisis visible and bringing the global discourse to a local level through artistic interventions by both internationally renowned and also young artists, as well as Chemnitz initiatives. In addition, discussions on socio-politically charged topics will be held in order to raise awareness and develop prospects for the future.