How on Earth?
HOW ON EARTH?
Replicating nature - a field trip with Bik Van Der Pol 12 August 2018
Casual day trip led by Bik Van der Pol to two vivid examples of German appropriations of the natural world: the artificial Vesuvius from 1788–94 in the park of Schloss Wörlitz and the original museological installation of Johann Friedrich Naumann’s bird collection in Köthen. ?
Departing from Bik Van Der Pol’s three-channel video installation, One To One produced for Verschwindende Vermächtnisse: Die Welt als Wald, we depart into the rich cultural landscape of Saxony-Anhalt to think about artificiality, notions of beauty, landscape and place-making.
One to One is inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “On Exactitude in Science” (1946) describing a 1:1 map of an empire in which the science of cartography has become so exact that only a map of the same scale as the empire itself suffices to represent it. Such an idea of the world-as-map, a model, a copy, or a blue print of all that exists resonates with the desire to measure, categorize, hold, and own (if only as a copy) everything in “containers of knowledge,” including the institutes of technology and science (museums, universities, laboratories, collections, and archives) that are still considered capable of transforming mentalities and reshaping societies.
With this in mind, this trip is about cultural processes in which practices of observing, remaking, and conserving are activated against the mandated eradication of that very world, and to reflect on and discuss the potential of storytelling through collecting facts and fictions to imagine the world otherwise.
12 August 2018, program:
Visit to the artificial Vesuvius in Schlosspark Wörlitz
On his travels through Italy, Leopold III, Prince of Dessau, met the British volcanologist Sir William Hamilton, a diplomate at the Court of Naples. Inspired by Hamilton’s research and observations, upon returning to his estate at Wörlitz, the prince had his own miniature Vesuvius erected there—complete with the mechanical apparatus to perform volcanic explosions. In its move of recreating the world as an earth sculpture, the artificial volcano (called the “Stein”) was a tribute to the advances of science and knowledge.
Visit to Naumann Bird Collection in Schloss Köthen
Opened to the public in 1835, the Naumann museum states to be the only museum in the world dedicated to the History of Ornithology; it consists of the bird collection and archive of scientist, engraver, and founder of Scientific Ornithology, Johann Friedrich Naumann (1780 – 1857). Naumann published The Natural History of German Birds (1820–44) and The Eggs of German Birds (1818–28), illustrated with plates he engraved himself. In 1821, Naumann sold his bird collection to Frederick Ferdinand, Duke of Anhalt-Köthen, and became curator of the ducal collection in the Ferdinandsbau in Schloss Köthen. After nearly 200 years, the municipality of Köthen is now planning to disassemble the bird halls and re-install the collection at the nearby Steinerne Haus. Eventually equipped with a historically-sounding but entirely new name, the “Herzoglisches Vogelcabinett” [ducal bird cabinet], the collection is imagined to attract more visitors in this new setting.