Art exhibition 25 June – 8 November 2020

Raul Walch. Laborant’s Pause, 2018. Inkjet-Print. Copyright: Raul WalchClick to enlarge
Raul Walch. Laborant’s Pause, 2018. Inkjet-Print.
Source: Raul Walch

Waste is everywhere: in the Great Pacific garbage patch, as fine particular matter in the air, or as microplastics in the food chain. The group exhibition Zero Waste showcases international positions in contemporary art that point out the urgency to save resources, consume less, and live more sustainably. In diverse installations, videos, sculptural works, and photographs the artists investigate the global consequences of plastic packaging, tire abrasion, toxic chemicals, and the overproduction of consumer goods. Zero Waste will be realized by the German Environment Agency in cooperation with the MdbK and curated by Hannah Beck-Mannagetta and Lena Fließbach.

Every day shreds from the horticultural greenhouses in southern Spain, also known as “El Mar de Plástico”, drift into the sea – Raul Walch uses these remnants as material for his expansive kinetic objects. Erik Sturm uses the fine dust he scrapes off the window sills of busy streets to produce paint, Vibha Galhotra visualizes the massive air pollution in New Delhi as "Black Cloud", a cloud of black paper dragons, and in performative photographs and videos. Dani Ploeger experiments with stress test machines in his laboratory to expose manufacturers' intentional premature obsolescence of high-tech electronic devices. Eliana Heredia works with disposable products and cleaning agents to produce a rather graphic installation. Tue Greenfort takes large-format pictures of fire at waste incineration plants. The artist Klara Meinhardt from Leipzig casts concrete moulds of styrofoam packaging. The sustainability of donated clothing is the subject of the interactive installation by Christoph Medicus. Nadine Fecht's large drawings which subtly feature typical urban waste as well as an installation consisting of plastic bag handles. For their video work, the artist duo Irwan Ahmett & Tita Salina transferred a small fish from a polluted water in Jakarta in a motorcycle procession with yellow flags symbolizing mourning to a crystal-clear river. Wolf von Kries takes wintertime photos of "conglomerates" falling from cars and which are made of petrol, dirt and frozen water but also ties the waste contents of his pockets accumulated at the end of a day - sweets wrappers or ticket stubs - into an ever-growing chain. Michel de Broin's video documentation shows how four passengers in an old Buick, from which the engine, electronics and transmission had previously been removed, move forward emission-free with a built-in pedal system. The young South African photographer Alexander Oelofse takes a look at the international food trade, where an apple from the other end of the world can be sold for less than from the farmer around the corner, as well as at the pollution of the world's oceans. In her grotesquely disturbing video works, Mika Rottenberg denounces the working conditions within global production chains and deliberately dispenses with the materially elaborate staging of her film installations in the exhibition. The Brazilian-Canadian artist duo Chico Togni and Kadija de Paula work with locally produced and "saved" food for their "Zero Waste" kitchen, built from materials found and recycled in the museum. Swaantje Güntzel considers the plasticisers in our blood, albatrosses that have died on plastic toys and small plastic parts, and the consequences of microplastics in cosmetic products. Using virtual reality glasses, viewers of Bianca Kennedy's and The Swan Collectives' interactive film become insects - the preferred source of food for humans in this future scenario, which is touted as sustainable. The protest against an economy purely geared to maximising profits and growth, as well as against the excessive waste of resources at the expense of the environment and climate, is becoming ever louder. At the same time there is a movement towards a minimalist lifestyle, conscious recycling management and sustainability. Whether it's recycling/upcycling, our own consumer behaviour, new technologies or simply avoiding waste, the exhibition wants to take a critical look at the current state of our planet and also discuss possible solutions, encourage alternative courses of action and create visions for the future.

Using self-imposed climate-friendly rules, the project also questions the wasteful use of resources in the art world and the carbon footprint of this exhibition. The Zero Waste exhibition avoids material-intensive installations, transport and travel over long distances for short stays and cooperates with local stakeholders. The proceeds from the catalogue and photos of the installations to be published will go entirely into Andreas Greiner's attempt to calculate the exhibition's CO2 emissions and to offset them by planting a corresponding number of trees.

Zero Waste presents artwork by Irwan Ahmett & Tita Salina, Michel de Broin, Nadine Fecht, Vibha Galhotra, Tue Greenfort, Andreas Greiner, Swaantje Güntzel, Eliana Heredia, Bianca Kennedy & The Swan Collective, Wolf von Kries, Christoph Medicus, Klara Meinhardt, Alexander Oelofse, Kadija de Paula & Chico Togni, Dani Ploeger, Mika Rottenberg, Erik Sturm and Raul Walch.

An extensive programme of events with activists and scientists is part of the exhibition. In compliance with current hygiene and safety measures to protect against the spread of the coronavirus and, if necessary, only via digital transmission, a guided tour format with experts from various fields, performances and a film screening with a talk with the artists will supplement the exhibition. Listening walks, DIY workshops and a repair café are planned in cooperation with local partners. The programme is made possible with the kind support of the Fonds Soziokultur e. V..  

The exhibition project is realized by the German Environment Agency as part of its "Art and Environment" programme series and in cooperation with the Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig. How can and will we live in the future without destroying our livelihood? How can we learn to think in new ways? And how do we move from knowledge to action? Art and culture can make a significant contribution to the process of societal understanding about future opportunities and sustainable development in our society. The German Environment Agency, Germany's central environmental authority, has been fostering dialogue with artists through its "Art and Environment" series since the mid-1980s. Discussion rounds, discussions with artists, guided tours and workshops for the public and employees round off the series. The series has launched and maintains cooperation with cultural institutions.   

The exhibition catalogue, jointly published by the Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig and the German Environment Agency, includes contributions by Hannah Beck-Mannagetta and Lena Fließbach, Sven Bergmann and Yusif Idies, Martin Ittershagen and Fotini Mavromati, and Minimal Mimi. The catalogue is about 130 pages and many colour illustrations is available at the museum box office for €12.
100% of the proceeds from the catalogue will go to the tree-planting project by artist Andreas Greiner, with the aim of offsetting the CO2 footprint in the exhibition. The first field maple was planted in the city of Gohlis (Landsberger Str./Max-Liebermann-Str.) in January 2020. A sponsorship of the "Aktion Baumstarke Stadt" of the city of Leipzig costs 250 € per tree.

Tuesday and Thursday-Sunday 10.00–18.00, Wednesday 12.00–20.00, closed on Monday
Bank holidays 10.00-18.00
Day ticket €10 / Reduced €7
Admission free for visitors under 19
Admission free on first Wednesday of the month

Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig
Public Relations, Marketing & Event
Tel.: +49 341 216 999 42, E-Mail: mdbk [at] leipzig [dot] de

German Environment Agency
Fotini Mavromati
Tel.: +49 340 2103 2318, E-mail: fotini [dot] mavromati [at] uba [dot] de
Denhart v. Harling
Tel.: +49 179 4963497, E-mail: dh [at] segeband [dot] de

In Dropbox at

Umweltbundesamt Hauptsitz

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau

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 Kunst und Umwelt  zero waste  Ressourcenschonung