[ISEA2023] Paper: Daniel Irrgang — Thought Exhibition. On critical zones, cosmograms, and the impossible outside


Full Paper. Theme: Museums – Curation Sub theme: Symbiotic Imaginaries

The paper discusses the curatorial concept of “thought exhibition” coined by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel and developed in collaboration with curators, artists, and researchers during four exhibitions at the ZKM Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (Germany). Thought exhibitions transgress the distinctions between philosophy, art, and science by testing ideas in an art museum, a space of discourse, representation, and participation. They engage visitors in a spatio-aesthetic thought experiment by bringing them into a position where preconceptions derived from epistemes of European Modernity are explicated and where alternatives are suggested. The analysis focusses on the most recent exhibition, in the preparation of which the author was involved: “Critical Zones. Observatories for Earthly Politics” (May 23, 2020 – January 9, 2022) mapped the symptoms and origins of the “New Climatic Regime” (Latour) of the late Anthropocene. In this paper, Critical Zones is framed within its theoretical context (Descola, Haraway, Margulis, Whithehead, among others) and discussed as relational spatio-aesthetic approach (Dikeç). The analysis concludes with Sarah Sze’s installation “Flash Point (Timekeeper)” (2018) as one of the exhibition’s central works – a representation, or “cosmogram” (Tresch), of a common planet that may provide an alternative to the globalized world of late capitalism.

  • Daniel Irrgang (DE) is a media scholar, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen, DK (UCPH), and associated researcher at Weizenbaum Institute, Berlin. As Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Centre Art as Forum at UCPH he is working on the concept of ‘thought exhibition’ (Bruno Latour). He holds a PhD in media studies on diagrammatics and expanded/embodied mind theories. He is author and editor of numerous books on the history and theory of media, communications, and arts. https://danielirrgang.net