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Baum und Platte

(c) Hug & Eberlein / Werkbundarchiv - Museum der Dinge

Exhibition at Museum der Dinge: Profitopolis or the Condition of the City

May 23 2024 – Feb 28 2025

The exhibition “Profitopolis or the Condition of the City” presents historical and contemporary objects, as well as documents of urban initiatives. These are supplemented with artistic works by Daniela Brahm, Mirja Busch, Martin Kaltwasser, Wenke Seemann, Tracey Snelling, ufo ufo – urban fragment observatory, and the ZK/U – Center for Art and Urbanistics.

The production of a city is the result of negotiation processes between different people, interests, and cultures. The conflicts that arise in this context are part of these processes and an element of a vibrant democratic culture. Urban political movements such as the Right to the City, car-free city initiatives, or climate justice groups are expressions of these conflicts. The exhibition “Profitopolis or the Condition of the City” shows that many of these themes have accompanied us for a long time and can reappear in different forms, adapted to the changing needs and circumstances of each generation.

ZK/U's Baum und Platte is featured in this exhibition, opening up new perspectives on the city by allowing a tree to engage in these discussions and describe the city from its point of view. To this end, ZK/U has equipped a tree with sensor kits. The collected data is transmitted to an AI database, which is additionally fed with contextual data about Leipzigerstraße 54. The AI gives the tree a voice through a text-to-speech module, enabling the tree to communicate with passersby and share its perspective on the city, its questions, and its knowledge. Beyond urban small talk, the tree engages people in a game: the sidewalk tiles on the ground bear symbols from the realms of the city, nature, activism, politics, and interaction, and are intended to be connected into new narratives in the game by the tree and the human conversation partner. The game opens up new, sometimes absurd perspectives on the city and expands our ideas about the possibilities of urban design.

Wouldn't it be appropriate to include the rights of non-human actors in the Right to the City? Do we humans perhaps need new impulses to avoid repeatedly getting stuck in the same lines of conflict?

The exhibition is presented as part of the 50th anniversary of the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge.

“Baum und Platte” is a project of ZK/U (Matthias Einhoff, Clemens Gruber, Miodrag Kuč).

Curators: Florentine Nadolni, Alexander Renz, Lotte Thaa

Funded by Hauptstadtkulturfonds.