WHAT IS NATURE?

September 13, 2020 to January 24, 2021 

What do we mean when we say “nature”? In western cultures, humankind long considered itself the crowning glory of creation. Nature and culture were clearly separated. Current ecological crises, however, such as the loss of biodiversity and climate change, call these assumptions into question. Natural sciences have long considered humankind one species next to all others – a species, however, which irrevocably shapes global ecosystems. “Nature” is not a matter of course, not an indestructible and infinite resource, neither idyll nor wilderness. Is a cultivated forest less “nature” than a primeval forest? Does a field count as nature? Faced with global ecological challenges, we need more differentiated concepts of nature, clear attitudes and realistic notions, not least regarding our individual and collective responsibility toward non-human creatures and their habitats. 

Katharina Sieverding, Die Sonne um Mitternacht schauen (red), 2010–2012, © Katharina Sieverding, VG Bild-Kunst, Foto: © Klaus Mettig. VG Bild-Kunst


Instead of giving a final answer to the question “What is nature?” the project has the goal of identifying the assumptions inherent in the term “nature” and formulating questions focusing on our manifold relationships with nature. There is no one „nature“ per se. The term “nature”, thus the hypothesis, describes a lot of unspoken assumptions, relations and interests. The exhibition What is Nature? assembles objects, texts and images from the arts, sciences and cultural history in order to find out more about conceptions of nature, to question and examine them. Thus, the project is conceived as a contribution to the discussion of questions which seem more pressing than ever before: how do we define ourselves as human beings in relationship to “nature”? What are our values? How do we deal with our existential dependence on plants, animals and ecosystems as a whole? What kind of world do we want to live in? Which responsibility do we bear, and how can we live up to it? What is our attitude towards “nature”?

  

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