press release

June 4–August 14, 2022

Esch2022 – European Capital of Culture
Earthbound—In Dialogue with Nature

Esch2022—European Capital of Culture presents Earthbound—In Dialogue with Nature, a group exhibition organised in collaboration with the HEK (House of Electronic Arts).

The exhibition presents 19 artworks by internationally renowned artists reflecting on urgent environmental themes, focusing on the complex relationship between humans and their ecosystems. The works on view span from tentative blueprints to alternative models for a more sustainable coexistence with our environment. They also investigate the use of digital tools in the sustainable treatment of natural resources.

Digitalisation is affecting all areas of life, from economic and cultural production to the private sphere. This raises the question of how digital tools can be applied to advance a sustainable use of our resources. What role can technology take in fostering a biocentric worldview and true coexistence between humans, the ecosystem, and all other species? Accordingly, artistic practices employing media, technologies, and technoscientific methods stand at the centre of Earthbound—In Dialogue with Nature. The artists’ creative application of digital media and new technologies—from artificial intelligence and virtual reality to interactive and immersive installations, multimedia sculptures, and video installations—invites the audience to experience and engage. Together, these works challenge the notion that humans are at the centre of the universe, encouraging us to surrender our egocentric perspective and rediscover our relationship with nature on this planet.

Many of the works were created in interdisciplinary collaborations between artists and scientists from a wide range of fields including geology, meteorology, and oceanography. Technology can often appear detached. Yet, while the artists participating in this exhibition do not advocate that technological solutions alone can guarantee a “better” future, or save the planet, they all employ technology to enlighten. This enables us to become aware of otherwise invisible ecological processes, therefore contributing to better coexistence with our environment.

In 2018, the HEK realised Eco-Visionaries, an exhibition that looked at ecological change via the role of art and the influence of media technologies on the discourses between science, technology, and eco-activism. This exhibition for Esch2022 is a continuation of the debate, offering new food for thought on one of the central issues of our time. This is reflected in the title of the exhibition: Earthbound—Dialogue with Nature. We have only this one Earth and urgently need to find a balanced coexistence here, because escape to other planets is not an option. Where better to stage our connection with Earth than in the rooms of a former warehouse for raw geological materials in the former Esch-Belval steel plant.

The exhibition is produced by the HEK (House of Electronic Arts) in Basel and curated by Sabine Himmelsbach (Director) and Boris Magrini (Head of Programme).

It is accompanied by a programme of public events, including guided tours and workshops. A catalogue published by Hatje Cantz will be released in Summer 2022.

Refik Anadol, Donatien Aubert, Melanie Bonajo, Tega Brain, Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács, Erik Bünger, María Castellanos & Alberto Valverde, Gil Delindro, Gilberto Esparza, Fragmentin, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Marc Lee, Marcus Maeder, Mary Maggic, Mélodie Mousset, Sabrina Ratté, Scenocosme: Grégory Lasserre & Anaïs met den Ancxt, Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits, Sissel Marie Tonn & Jonathan Reus

Sabine Himmelsbach & Boris Magrini Assisted by Yulia Fisch

Project management
Yulia Fisch & Vincent Crapon

Technical direction
Thomas Schwab, Matthias Gommel

Technical project coordination
Thomas Schwab, Matthias Gommel, Michel Winterberg, Tim Marti, Daniel Dressel

Andreas Wenger

Exhibition graphic design

Exhibition visual
Konrad Renner, Studio Knoth & Renner

Facility management
Guillaume Taens