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MARTa Herford
Goebenstrasse 4-10
32052 Herford
Deutschland / Germany
Fon +49.5221.9944300

reported by European Art Projects

shared by numero civico rovereto


In the foreground: Attila Csörgő, Untitled (Dodecahedron = Icosahedron), 1999; behind: Tomás Saraceno, Solar Center, 2011 and Air-port city, 2008. Installation view We are all astronauts, MARTa Herford. Photo: European Art Projects



// MARTa HERFORD // 10 JUNI 2011

Dear Stefano Giovanazzi, We very much would like to inform you about the exhibition ‚We are all astronauts‘ - Universe Richard Buckminster Fuller reflected in contemporary art, which will be on view from June, 11th at MARTa Herford; Germany. The exhibition is curated by Markus Richter in cooperation with the MARTa team and will coincide with the survey Bucky Fuller & Spaceship Earth, compiled by Norman Foster and Luis Fernández-Galiano. The exhibitions offer a comprehensive overview on Fuller's designs & ideas from the early 4D-studies of the 1920ties to the later geodesic structures und presents him as well as an thought leader, whose ideas are still relevant and inspiring. We would be happy to welcome you at the opening on of the exhibitions on June, 10th at 7:30 pm in Herford.

The exhibition continues the artistic research on late modern visionary architecture and urbanism, which we started in 2008 with the project Megastructure Reloaded. We very much would like to thank MARTa director Roland Nachtigäller for the invitation to now realize an exhibition on Buckminster Fuller & contemporary art in collaboration with his team. The dynamic and polymorphic galleries of MARTa, built according to plans of Frank Gehry, provide a perfect backdrop for a show on Fuller, who was rebelling his whole live against the predominance of the cube and the inflexibility of the x-, y-, z-coordinates.
The majority of artists invited to participate in the show dealt already extensively with Fullers ideas; like Ai Weiwei, Attila Csörgő, Björn Dahlem, José Dávila, Hermann Maier Neustadt, N55, Ólafur Elíasson, Franka Hörnschemeyer, Tobias Putrih, Pedro Reyes, Tomás Saraceno and Albrecht Schäfer. Besides, the exhibition encompasses works by Simon Dybbroe Møller, Michel François, Lucas Lenglet, David Maljkovic, and Beat Zoderer, whose connections with Fuller are not always obvious on the first sight. In addition we commissioned new projects by Riccardo Previdi, Silke Riechert, Kai Schiemenz, Kerstin Stoll and Tilman Wendland. Floating on top: Björn Dahlem, Galaxy (Canis Major), 2009; left: Lucas Lenglet, Untitled (Column), 2010; right: Björn Dahlem, Milky Way, 2010. Installation view We are all astronauts, MARTa Herford. Photo: European Art Projects

Minimalist and Conceptual artists had already discovered Buckminster Fuller's relevance for their own work by the late 1960s. However, for contemporary artists Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog and counterculture appropriations of geodesic structures appear to be more significant than critical reflections on Fuller in essays by Robert Smithson and Dan Graham, or Jasper Johns' painterly interpretation of the Dymaxion Airocean World. The domes and zomes of the hippie communes Drop City, Libre or Red Rockers also represent the transformation of Fuller's highly complex ideas into the icons of a culture of protest. Like Fuller, the counterculture of the late 1960s saw architecture as a transmission belt of the great utopia machine and many of the artists who deal with Fuller today take this as their starting point. Contemporary architecture groups such as raumlaborberlin or n55 from Copenhagen, have picked up the strings left hanging by followers of Fuller, such as Archigram and Ant Farm. Their projects combine experimental architecture and design with applied urban criticism and performance oriented sculpture.
Fuller defines in an essay from 1949: "The Specialist in comprehensive design is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist” Today, artists like Tomás Saraceno or Pedro Reyes act on this idea creating works, that goes way beyond the narrow confines of the art world. Reyes develops in 2007 his Ciclomóvil, a reference to Fuller's Dymaxion Car. It is a human powered, zero emission vehicle for Mexico City. Reyes not only sees his prototype as a sculpture, but also as a potential spark for initiating a collaborative practice, which could create jobs around the Ciclomóvil, from research and development to marketing and sales.

In the foreground: José Dávila, 25 great circles, 2007; in the back: Riccardo Previdi, Untitled (long time exposure), 2011; display case on the left: Hermann Meyer Neustadt, designs for AtuckY, 2006; right: Pedro Reyes, Ciclomóvil, 2007. Installation view We are all astronauts, MARTa Herford. Photo: European Art Projects

Fullers definition of the “Comprehensive Designer” seems to apply very clearly to Tomás Saraceno, whose Airport Cities are a direct reference to Fuller's Project for Floating Cloud structure (Cloud Nine), the spherical, flying cities that he designed together with Shoji Sadao in 1960. The idea is based on the assumption that the weight of a large diameter geodesic sphere would be so light, that solar radiation would theoretically warm the air within it to such a degree that the spherical city would eventually lift off like a hot air balloon. Saraceno picked up on this idea and made great efforts to turn Fuller's vision into a reality. He left the traditional realms of the visual arts behind, and began working with scientists to develop materials that were 'lighter than air'; meanwhile he even holds a patent on thermo-isolation for air vehicles.
Tobias Putrih on the other hand, articulates an explicitly skeptical interpretation of Fuller's Cloud Nine project, to which he has dedicated an entire body of work. “It seems it's not so far from Fuller's fantastic idea, to the concept of ultimate, total (perhaps totalitarian) structure. Science-fiction thriller, the utopian moment within American dream, concludes with the radical concept of the airborne city. One of the answers to Fuller is to turn his original idea back over to the hands and minds of individuals, to start from the bottom up, where metaphorically speaking, one could find his or her own shape, his or her own deformity of the Cloud Nine.” These thoughts spawned the various studies of deformed spheroid worlds in Putrih's ongoing series of drawings and sculpture entitled Quasi Random, which he began in 2002.

Im Vordergrund: Pedro Reyes, Ciclomóvil, 2007; links hinten: Ólafur Elíasson, Eye see you, 2006; im Zentrum: José Dávila, 25 great circles, 2007; hinten rechts: Franka Hörnschemeyer, Blindtext, 2009. Installation view We are all astronauts, MARTa Herford. Photo: European Art Projects

Kai Schiemenz has designed a deformable “Buckyball” for this exhibition in that same spirit; a geodesic beanbag which has to forfeit its perfect spheroid form if it is to function as a piece of furniture. The object can be deformed and/or returned to its original shape as necessitated by the desires of museum visitors. A similarly playful experimentation with Fulleresque geometry is evidenced in Attila Csörgő's Football World Map which combines the soccer ball shaped truncated icosahedron with the Dymaxion World Map. This same attitude can also be seen in José Dávila's transformation of Fuller's sublime drawing 25 Great Circles, into a run of the mill carpet. Skepticism about all too perfect forms and perfect geometry has also been a constant in interpretations of Fuller, starting with Robert Smithson's famous verdict "Unike Buckminster Fuller, I'm interested in collaborating with entropy. ... After all, wreckage is often more interesting than structure. At least, not as depressing as Dymaxion domes. Utopian saviors we can do without." From this perspective, the 'misinterpreted' and geometrically imperfect domes and zomes of the hippie communes might be the thing that saves Fuller's ideas from the perfection that he inherently sought; according to Tilman Wendland, this is where "the poetry starts."
On the occasion of the exhibition a comprehensive German / English catalogue with essays by Joachim Krausse, Dana Miller and Markus Richter, designed by Tobias Kohlhaas / Weiss–Heiten Berlin and edited by MARTa Herford & Markus Richter is published by Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld.
You may find further information on museum and its architecture, opening hours & directions at

Best reagards,
Sabrina van der Ley & Markus Richter

The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of e.on and Kunststiftung NRW.
T: +49.30.69 81 94 13 / F +49.30.69 81 94 15

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