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Therme Art Program

Therme Art Collaborates with Messe in St Agnes During Gallery Weekend Berlin 2020

On the second weekend of September, Therme Art collaborated with König Galerie during Gallery Weekend Berlin to realise an augmented edition of Therme Art’s Wellbeing Culture Forum. Across seven panel discussions staged under a large willow tree surrounded by the former church’s Brutalist architecture, participants––together with other panelists joining by video stream––discussed solutions for cultural transformation in the age of the Anthropocene. The three-day interdisciplinary event attracted enthusiastic audiences in Berlin and online from all over the world. Therme Art’s curator Mikolaj Sekutowicz co-moderated each panel together with others including Sarah Wilson, Roya Sachs and Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Blueprints for the discussions were the humanistic powers of the Bauhaus movement, along with the Gaia Hypothesis of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis. The Bauhaus was the first modern artistic movement that penetrated nearly all areas of life. The Gaia Hypothesis postulates a holistic view of the earth system and its interactions, leading to a view of the planet as a gesamtkunstwerk, a living organism. Nowadays, in the face of the pandemic and ongoing ecological and social challenges, we need to devise new means of cultural behaviour and multifunctional sites, creating immersive spaces to bridge nature and culture. The seven panel discussions sketched plans on how art can help build these bridges.

A central part of our work at Therme Art is to commission artists to realise ambitious and innovative projects that embody new modes of experiencing art. During the Wellbeing Culture Forum at St Agnes, we were proud to present two such projects by Berlin-based Icelandic artist Egill Saebjörnsson.

The first commission, Flying Waters (video above), was a site-specific digital artwork that was on view for the duration of Berlin Art Week from 8 – 20 September. Projected onto the majestic gable wall of St Agnes’s church, the work blurred real and virtual worlds, disrupting the urban landscape and creating an unforgettable break from everyday life. Alongside the installation, Therme Art also commissioned a model of The Mother, the immersive water-based art experience currently in development for a future Therme Group facility. The artwork (pictured below) could be seen in the courtyard of St Agnes during the Wellbeing Culture Forum events.

Egill Saebjörnsson, The Mother (model, 2020), installation view, St Agnes, September 2020

Breaking Bauhaus (l–r): Marc Spiegler, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Nicholas Grafia & Roya Sachs

Therme Food at Therme Art x Messe in St Agnes

Also playing a key role in the weekend’s events was Therme Food Lab, a holistic food concept currently in development by Therme Art and Therme Group. At Messe in St. Agnes, Therme Food Lab presented a showcase of this development. On the fair’s opening night, Hendrik Strempel and Michelin star-awarded chef Stephan Hentschel performed a plant-based flying thermic menu for 200 invited guests, with courses specially designed to variously heat up, cool down, and otherwise enliven the evening. Over the weekend, visitors could also experience thermic meals at a Therme Food stand in the gallery’s leafy courtyard.

Mikolaj Sekutowicz on the opening evening of the Wellbeing Culture Forum at St Agnes

The Wellbeing Culture Forum at St Agnes was realised in cooperation with leading design platform Dezeen; Messe in St. Agnes, the new Berlin art fair held on the grounds of the iconic St Agnes Church at König Galerie; and with London’s Serpentine Galleries.

The weekend’s talks programme included figures from diverse fields including art, culture, politics, architecture, fashion, design, cultural studies, science, law, healing, social activism, and entrepreneurship. These were:

Abuelo Antonio Oxté, Adrienne Goehler, Anh-Linh Ngo, Arthur Mamou-Mani, Claudia Paetzold, Constanza Macras, Cyrill Gutsch, Edna Bonhomme, Egill Sæbjörnsson, Francis Kéré, Freo Majer, Friederike von Brühl, Hannes Koch, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Heiko Michels, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Jeewi Lee, Johann König, Joulia Strauss, Julieta Aranda, Kunlé Adeyemi, Lilleth Glimcher, Lucia Pietroiusti, Marc Spiegler, Marcus Fairs, Matana Roberts, Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, Monilola Ilupeju, Moritz van Dülmen, Moshtari Hilal, Nicholas Grafia, Riya Hamid, Roya Sachs, Sabine Himmelsbach, Salome Rodeck, Sarah Wilson, Sean Di Ianni, Simon de Pury, Sissel Tolaas, Stefano Mancuso, Sumayya Vally, Takashi Kudo, Tomás Saraceno, Tue Greenfort, Ulrich Seibert, Virgil Abloh, and Yoram Roth.


Talks Programme

Friday, 11 September

Session 1: Breaking Bauhaus: Renewing its Principles 100 Years Later 

One hundred years ago, the Bauhaus movement revolutionised our cities and lifestyles out of an artistic impulse. This panel examined the mono-cultivation of our planet, climate change and viral pandemics to consider the renewal of the humanist Bauhaus idea in light of local and ecological differences.

Panelists included: Virgil Abloh, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Roya Sachs, Kunlé Adeyemi, Marc Spiegler, Nicholas Grafia and Sumayya Vally

 

Session 2: Growing Gaia: Transforming a Hypothesis into Action 

The Gaia Hypothesis, proposed by Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock in the 1970s, has become particularly relevant in light of the current crises. It is undeniably clear that today we must reposition ourselves within the totality of nature. This panel considered how artists, architects, scientists, and designers might enliven this theory and translate it into action.

Panelists included: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Francis Kéré, Tomás Saraceno, Abuelo Antonio Oxté, Cyrill Gutsch, Egill Sæbjörnsson, Lucia Pietroiusti, Mikolaj Sekutowicz, Stefano Mancuso, Tue Greenfort, Salome Rodeck (as Lynn Margulis) and James Lovelock represented by video clips


Saturday, 12 September

Session 3: Creating in Crisis: Systems of Creativity and Improvisation

The COVID-19 pandemic has unsettled our institutionalised methods of art production and its reception. Now, we must now learn to create in the midst of uncertainty. Beginning with the ongoing pandemic, this panel discussed creativity and improvisation, and the role of crisis to act as a catalyst for renewal and change.

Panelists included: Marcus Fairs, Jeewi Lee, Johann König, Joulia Strauss, Julieta Aranda, Sarah Wilson and Matana Roberts

 

Session 4: Art as Healing: Transforming Interior and Exterior Life

Art can inspire, but it can also help us cope with the conflicts and confusions of daily life and locate spaces of community in dislocation. This panel discussed the therapeutic qualities of art as a catalyst for individual and collective progress, and the role of art in designing spaces for spirituality, meaning and contemplation.

Panelists included: Sissel Tolaas, Lucia Pietroiusti, Claudia Paetzold, David Russell, Roya Sachs, Lilleth Glimcher and Riya Hamid

 

Session 5: Liquid Experiences: Immersive Experiences in Art, Nature and Cities

Using the work of contemporary artists as a starting point, this talk set out to explore the increasing popularity of immersive art, as well as to discuss what the tendency reveals about our contemporary world. Among other ideas, it considered the possibilities and problems of the “experience economy,” the limitations of the white cube, the role of digital technologies, and the possible role of experience-based art in fostering increased connection as well as a more stable sense of wellbeing.

Panelists included: Hannes Koch (Random International), Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Heiko Michels, Marc Glimcher, Robert Hanea, Sean Di Ianni (Meow Wolf), Sabine Himmelsbach and Takashi Kudo (teamLab)


Sunday, 13 September

Session 6: Critical Culture: Artistic Strategies in Reshaping Reality

Amidst crises, the fragility of our entire culture is revealed. Cultural players in particular are called upon today to apply their practices of transformation, adaptation and manifestation developed in the art space to social realities, to sculpt the future. The talk self-critically reflected on new responsibilities.

Panelists included: Monilola Ilupeju, Arthur Mamou-Mani, Moshtari Hilal, Julieta Aranda, Nicholas Grafia and Simon de Pury

 

Session 7: Berlin, Where Are We Now? A City as an Artistic Laboratory

Since the fall of the wall, Berlin has been an epicentre for artistic and architectural experiments, attracting artists from all over the world. Recently, however, the international press spoke about “Berlin fatigue”. This panel considered the changing artistic climate in the city, and the role of creativity in fostering urban life in greater harmony with the natural world.

Panelists included: Adrienne Goehler, Anh-Linh Ngo, Freo Majer, Constanza Macras, Friederike von Brühl, Moritz van Dülmen, Ulrich Seibert and Yoram Roth.


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Audience during Therme Art x Messe in St Agnes

Ocean LeClair performing on the opening evening at Therme Art x Messe in St Agnes

Photo Credits: Therme Art © Jendrick Schröder