Licht Luft Scheiße: Perspectives on Ecology and Modernity

Exhibition at the Botanical Museum Berlin & at the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst and Nachbarschaftsakademie at the Prinzessinnengarten Kreuzberg
Friday, 16. August 2019 - 0:00 to Tuesday, 24. May 2022 - 11:23

»Licht Luft Scheiße . Perspectives on Ecology and Modernity« proposes a diverse series of twentieth-century concepts and practices that resonate with our current ideas of sustainability. They are both historical references and points of departure for novel or updated reflections on alternative ways of living in the globalised world. In light of the on-going destruction of Planet Earth we must fundamentally rethink our relationship to the biosphere and all non-human beings.

The ecological question is nothing new. In response to industrial growth and sprawling urbanisation under capitalism, numerous ›reform movements‹ were launched over a hundred years ago: from cooperative housing associations to anarcho-syndicalist settlements, from self-sufficient urban gardening to ecological agriculture, to concepts for recycling waste. These innovations were based in part on pre-modern knowledge and their significance came more clearly to the fore during the economic and social crises that followed on the First World War. They mirror not only a systematic appreciation of the interplay of human beings and the environment, of nature and technology, but also people’s growing awareness at the time, of the fact that the modern age carries within it the seeds of its own destruction. Too, the Bauhaus, although its architectural programme was far removed from ecological concerns, remained intently preoccupied with the relation of bio-philosophy to functionalism, pursuing a design practice informed by natural structures and processes.

The project’s two-year research phase culminates now in two exhibitions combining contemporary art production and archive material, and a parallel independent programme of education and outreach. These three aspects of the project, along with a number of complementary events and publications, address the past and present of the ecology movement, socio-ecological urban development, garden culture and plant and soil research

Exhibition at the Botanical Museum Berlin
Installations by contemporary artists who examine scientific methods and aesthetics in light of resources, biodiversity and waste products are on show at the Botanical Museum Berlin. Some of the works were produced specifically for this project.
Under the title »Plant Workshop of Modernity«, one section of the exhibition takes up the early- twentieth-century diversification of botanical research by likewise venturing into physiology, genetics and soil science. This raises the question of whether, or to what extent, Modernism’s functionalist, reformist and utopian currents influenced such discourses, and vice versa.

With: Book & Hedén, Böhler & Orendt, Katja Kaiser, Susanne Kriemann, Katarzyna Kukuła, Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, Kim Nekarda, New Territories_S/he (with Mika Tamori & Štěpán Krahulec, Max Unterfrauner, Helvijs Savickis), Patricia Piccinini, Gitte Villesen

16 August –27 October 2019          
Botanisches Museum Berlin
Königin-Luise-Straße 6-8, 14195 Berlin
Exhibition Daily 9:00-19:00        

8 September 2019, 15:00, Botanisches Museum Berlin (DE/EN)
Führung durch die Ausstellung mit | Guided exhibition tour with Kathrin Grotz, Florian Wüst (Kurator_innen | Curators), Susanne Kriemann, Kim Nekarda (Künstler_innen | Artists)

27 Oktober 2019, 15:00, Botanisches Museum Berlin (DE/EN)
Führung durch die Ausstellung mit | Guided exhibition tour with Sandra Bartoli, Kathrin Grotz (Kurator_innen | Curators), Böhler & Orendt, Gitte Villesen (Künstler_innen | Artists)

Book & Hedén: 33 Days in a Damson thicket, 2014
© Book & Hedén

Gitte Villesen: There is an affinity, 2019
© Gitte Villesen

Exhibition at the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst
The selection of archive material, historical sources and artefacts on display at the nGbK dates mainly from the first half of the twentieth century and bears witness to conceptual and practical forerunners of current ecological models and solutions. Highlights, inter alia, are the experiment in self-sufficiency launched by Leberecht Migge and Elisabeth Elsaesser in 1933 on their »Sun Island« in Lake Seddin, near Berlin; and Raoul Francé and Annie Francé-Harrars’ research into, and illustration of, soil organisms.

With: Marte Aas, Tal Alon Mozes, bankleer, Oliver Botar, Thomas Elsaesser, David Haney, Martina Hanusová, Michael Klein & Sasha Pirker, Aglaia Konrad, Joachim Krausse, Wolfram Kunick, Merete Mattern, Joaquín Medina Warmburg, Alessandra Ponte, Daniel Spruth, Tal Sterngast, Gitte Villesen, Yvonne Volkart u.a.

17 August – 27 October 2019          
neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst
Oranienstraße 25, 10999 Berlin
Exhibition Daily 12:00-18:00, Fr 12:00-20:00        
Events / Publication


Nachbarschaftsakademie at the Prinzessinnengarten Kreuzberg
The global ecological crisis and its social repercussions raise questions also about new forms of education. Which kind of future are we learning for – a future in which we share the responsibility for life on this planet or a future of accelerated destruction? In 2015 the ›Nachbarschaftsakademie‹ [Neighbourhood Academy] began experimenting with self-organised forms of learning, between activism and art. In summer 2019, under the title »Growing From the Ruins of Modernity«, a curriculum for a permanent place of life-long learning will be developed – for the next 99 years – at the community garden in Kreuzberg. Learning, in our book, means contributing collectively and joyfully to forms of co-existence in which human beings and the biosphere are not exploited..

June – September 2019        
Nachbarschaftsakademie at the Prinzessinnengarten Kreuzberg
Prinzenstraße 35-38, 10969 Berlin        
Events / Cinema program / Workshops / Installations / Publication


The project is a joint production of:

  • Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum der Freien Universität Berlin (BGBM)
  • die Martin-Elsaesser-Stiftung
  • die Nachbarschaftsakademie im Prinzessinnengarten Kreuzberg und die
  • neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK)

Artistic directors:

  • Sandra Bartoli, Marco Clausen, Silvan Linden, Åsa Sonjasdotter & Florian Wüst (nGbK project group)
  • Kathrin Grotz & Patricia Rahemipour (BGBM)
Funded by the Bauhaus heute Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin
Supported by the Danish Arts Foundation and the Office for Contemporary Art Norway

2,50 €, reduced 1,50 € (bei Garteneintritt 6,00 €, ermäßigt 3,00 € ist Museumseintritt inkl.)