Text by CLOT Magazine
S+T+ARTS, an initiative of the European Commission that explores the collaborative potential between science, technology and the arts, presented a cross-disciplinary residency initiative launched in June 2021, selecting 21 artists to take part in thematic residencies that would reflect on pan-European or global issues that require solutions tailored to specific regions. Inspired by an EU Green Deal or a New European Bauhaus goal, the artists come up with creative and interdisciplinary initiatives that propose sustainable practices for the future of the continent.
Using the residencies’ framework as a point of departure, the exhibition series Repairing the Present aimed to portray art-driven collective responses to the current and future emergencies and critical transformations on social, environmental, and technological levels. They also aimed to be beyond current limitations and of other possible futures. The selected artists proposed alternatives to existing unsustainable practices within our society and challenged established hierarchies, with projects calling for more harmonious ways to produce, manufacture, live, trade or explore space that considers our world’s interdependence.
Whether by linking nature and human behaviours, suggesting role reversals and using microorganisms as models for human practises, mapping out human activities to create awareness about their effects, or exploring the tensions between capital, manufacturing industries, technology on the one hand and the natural world on the other, the proposed projects stand for the imperative need to understand how our current modes of existence and the technological developments that accompany them affect the natural and non-human world.
The last of these exhibitions is currently ongoing at ZKM. What can art do to counter global crises today and in the future? It’s asked. Curated by Manuel Cirauqui, Repairing the Present:RETOOL, focuses on collective responses to emergency scenarios, such as those we are experiencing worldwide in the form of pandemic outbreaks or the climate crisis. The exhibition showcases work by Grow Your Own Cloud, Markus Jeschaunig, Hypercomf, Adriana Knouf, Olga Kisseleva, Studio Lapatsch | Unger & Studio Johanna Schmeer, Unit Lab, Wassim Z. Alsindi & 0x Salon, STATE, as well as a two-day sound installation by Lugh O’Neill at ZKM’s Cube.
The presented artworks assess the impact of blockchain technology; propose new scenarios of post-human collaboration; investigate the future potential of DNA data storage on an urban level; explore paths to green energy production and water purification, and suggest open-source platforms for DIY empowerment of youth. These projects exemplify strategic scenarios for art-science-technology collaboration, where research and hands-on practice converge and seek new forms of resilience and remediation.
Repairing the Present:RETOOL runs until 18 December 2022 at ZKM.