Expeditions / Exhibitions – Antarctica as a project – Gustav Düsing, Marie-France Rafael and Nadim Samman


Screening: A Journey That Wasn’t by Pierre Huyghe

Discussion: Gustav Düsing (architect and Antarctic Biennale participant), Marie-France Rafael (art historian and author) and Nadim Samman (co-curator Antarctic Biennale) – German/English

Installation/expedition: Gustav Düsing, on the property of Crailsheimstraße / Scherenhofstraße


Since 1961 the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) sets aside Antarctica as an unpopulatable, scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation and bans military activity on that continent. For most people earth’s sixth continent is so far away that it can be perceived as common heritage, as an agile archive and laboratory, in which a new era of ecological consciousness is being fostered. Briefly put, Antarctica is a geographic end of the world yet central to global debates about climate change. Can we even talk about an ‘Antarctic culture’ beyond scientific discourse? Confronted with a place that fundamentally questions the role of humanity, what answers do art and architecture offer? This talk will address the intellectual and practical coordinates of commissioning art in Antarctica and the potential of the ‘antarctic imaginary’.

Expeditions / Exhibitions – Antarctica as a project begins with a screening of Pierre Huyghes’ film A Journey That Wasn’t*, followed by a discussion between Antarctic Biennale participant Gustav Düsing, author and Pierre Huyghe expert Marie-France Rafael and Nadim Samman, co-curator of the Antarctic Biennale. After the talk, Gustav Düsing’s architectural contribution to the biennial will be ready for inspection on a neighboring property: Easy to transport and fast to set up, the tent is the most prominent architectural typology that has been used for Arctic expeditions since the 19th century. Following Antarctica’s logic, Düsing has constructed a tent made of frozen fabric that he will set up again in Munich for the evening.

The event is part of Stop making sense, it’s as good as it gets.: a program developed by Ludwig Engel and Joanna Kamm, derived from a close reading of Tom McCarthy’s novel Satin Island. The book deals with the impossibility to reach the present and the resulting inability to write the Great Report on our contemporary society. Following these thoughts, artists, writers, architects, theorists and scientists are invited to discuss their interpretations of time through different formats.

* In his film A Journey That Wasn’t, Pierre Huyghe investigates the topic of travels and their presentation. In a complex matrix Huyghe develops an artwork that comprises different places, media and stages, in which the story unfolds: In 2002 Huyghe exhibited L’Expédition scintillante – A Musical at Kunsthaus Bregenz, creating a „physical scenario of a hypothetical journey to Antarctica, with its postulate still in need of verification.“ Three years later, Huyghe actually made an expedition to Antarctica, in which he and his fellow travellers created a series of situations, that he documented in a literary text he published in 2005. Afterwards he produced an „Opera on Ice“ in New York’s Central Park. Followed by the film A Journey That Wasn’t that assembles footage from the actual Antarctica expedition with the fictionalized performance in Central Park.


Gustav Düsing (born 1984, Münster, Germany) studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London and works as an architect in Berlin. He developed a diverse portfolio of work, ranging from small-scale institutional buildings to large infrastructural concepts and architectural installations. In 2015 he co-founded Gustav Düsing & Max Hacke as a collaborative studio and in 2017 he was invited to join the first ever Antarctic Biennale. He is assistant professor in architecture at the Technical University Braunschweig and at UDK Berlin. In 2016 he was a unit master at the Architectural Association Visiting School Melbourne.

Pierre Huyghe (born 1962, Paris, France) studied in Paris at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. In his artistic work, Huyghe pushes the boundaries of the imaginary. He creates situations, in which presentation and experience presuppose each other. Huyghe’s artistic output does not focus on a specific medium but spans film, sculpture, architecture, opera and ecosystems.

Nadim Samman is a curator and art historian. He is a founder and Co-Curator of 1st Antarctic Biennale (March 2017), and The Antarctic Pavilion (Venice Biennale of Architecture, 2014; Art, 2015, 2017). He is currently Co-Director of Import Projects, Berlin. Nadim read Philosophy at University College London before receiving his PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art. In 2012 he co-curated the 4th Marrakech Biennale. Recent projects include Treasure of Lima: A Buried Exhibition (a unique site-specific exhibition on the remote Pacific island of Isla del Coco) and Rare Earth (a major group exhibition at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna). In 2016 he was Curator and Artistic Director of the 5th Moscow International Biennial for Young Art. www.nadimsamman.com

Marie-France Rafael studied art history and film studies in Paris and Berlin. She currently holds a position as a post-doctoral research associate at the department of spatial strategies at Muthesius University Kiel. Prior she was a research associate at the department of history and cultural studies (2015) and research associate at the collaborative research center 626: Aesthetic Experience and the Dissolution of Artistic Limits (2011-2014) at Free University Berlin. Most recent publications include: Reisen ins Imaginativ. Künstlerische Situationen und Displays, Köln: Walther König, 2017; Ari Benjamin Meyers. Music on Display, Köln: Walther König, 2016, Pierre Huyghe. On Site, Köln: Walther König, 2013.

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001_TENT ON CUVERVILLE ISLAND, ANTARCTICA, frozen tent for the Antarctic-Biennale 2017, Architecture: Gustav Düsing, Photography: Gustav Düsing.


002_”Expeditions / Exhibitions – Antarctica as a project”, Screening and Talk (17.01.2018), BNKR Munich. Photography: private.