Exhibition and conference

Animism was a multipart exhibition which addressed the current reassessment of modernity in the spirit of Bruno Latour’s treatise “We Have Never Been Modern”. The project was based on artistic-aesthetic animation processes, which are better known through their use in cartoons. The exhibition examined the relationship between these processes and the categorical demarcations of our modern-day world view. What makes animation so appealing to viewers is its ability to overstep boundaries; animation systematically blurs the dividing lines between life and non-life, stasis and movement, human-kind and animal-kind, reality and imagination.

The exhibition placed these phenomena in the context of the term “animism”, which dates back to the ethnological discourse of the 19th century. Most people equate animism with a religious practice which regards objects and nature as living, as possessing different forms of subjectivity. In this regard, the project explored where the boundaries lie between objects and subjects, nature and culture, the psyche and the material world. The term animism was the starting point of an investigation of those boundaries – and not just because they have begun to shift and find themselves under intense scrutiny as a result of the global and technological developments of recent decades. The exhibition resembled an ethnological museum of modernity featuring works by some 30 international artists at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

The accompanying conference gathered theorists and artists together, all of whom have played an essential role in revising the modern view of animism, and in so doing, offered new approaches to the concept of “modernity”. The project was supplemented by a collection of theoretical texts on the exhibition’s theme, published by the diaphanes Verlag. Edited by Irene Albers and Anselm Franke, the German-language edition “Animism – Revisions of Modernity” addresses central positions of the international debate. Artistic directors: Anselm Franke (Curator), Irene Albers (Project manager Free University of Berlin)

Artists: Adam Avikainen, Agentur, Marcel Broodthaers, Didier Demorcy, Walt Disney, Jimmie Durham, León Ferrari, J.J. Grandville, Victor Grippo, Candida Höfer, Tom Holert , Ken Jacobs, Yayoi Kusama, Lars Laumann, Len Lye, Daria Martin, Angela Melitopoulos und Maurizio Lazzarato, Vincent Monnikendam, Istvan Orosz, Roee Rosen, Dierk Schmidt, Erik Steinbrecher, Paulo Tavares, Rosemarie Trockel, Martin Zillinger u.a.

The partners of the project include Extra City - Kunsthal Antwerp in Antwerpe, the Museum of Contemporary Art (M HKA) in Antwerpe, the Kunsthalle Berne, the Generali Foundation in Vienna, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin and the Free University of Berlin.

Venue and schedule:
Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 16 Mar. – 6 May 2012 (Exhibition); 16 – 17 Mar. 2012 (Conference)


Freie Universität Berlin

Habelschwerdter Allee 45

14195 Berlin (external link, opens in a new window)