The Beauty of Early Life. Traces of Early Life
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe
An exhibition in cooperation with the State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe
Sat, 26.03.2022 – Sun, 10.07.2022
Atrium 8+9, 1st floor
Cost: Museum Admission
The exhibition takes us on a journey back through time to the origin of life. How did life first get started? Where can we still find traces of the earliest life forms today? Why is it important to look at the past in order to develop an understanding of why biodiversity is so relevant in today’s world?
There are scientific predictions that more than one-third of all living species are threatened with extinction because of the effects of human activity. Since the very beginning of life, organisms depend on and influence one another. Living things do not exist in isolation, they live off and with each other. Therefore, we have all long been aware that life itself is threatened on planet Earth.
The exhibition invites us to look at the emergence of life through artistic works from modern times to the present, complemented by scientific exhibits from the early days of life, right now, at this crossroads of a global climate and biodiversity crisis.
The early days of life were in the Precambrian, Cambrian, and subsequent Ordovician geologic time periods; at the end of these there was a mass extinction. The exhibition thus covers the period from about 3.8 billion years ago to 444 million years Before Present (BP). The exhibition is a joint project with the State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe. The fossils on display are evidence of the evolutionary processes described by Charles Darwin in his mid-19th century work »Origin of Species«, published in 1859. Darwin was fully aware that the geological record of the time was seriously incomplete. The oldest fossils known to Darwin came from creatures that were already highly evolved, and not from the early days of life – a »dilemma« for Darwin. Today, however, a good century and a half later, such fossils have been found, and they are presented in the exhibition. Darwin’s dilemma has largely been solved; now it is up to us to preserve the diversity of species that has arisen through evolution! By making the history of life on Earth experienceable through fossil finds and artistic works in the exhibition, the beauty and diversity of early life, hitherto barely taken note of, is showcased for the first time in a comprehensive way.
The spring and summer program at ZKM »It’s about Life«
At the same time as the exhibition, the ZKM is offering »It’s about Life«, an extensive educational and accompanying program on the subject of biophilia, that is sponsored by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg within the framework of »Culture despite Corona«.
Sat, 26.03.2022 – Sun, 28.08.2022
Cost: All events are free of charge
It’s about nothing less than the love of life! At the intersection of art, science, and technology, the project »It’s about Life« of ZKM brings together people of different ages and backgrounds and encourages an exchange on biophilia, the love of life.
Peter Weibel, artistic and scientific director of the ZKM, sees the crises currently threatening us as a starting point to finally focus on life again. And specifically, a life in which the focus is not on human, but on the earth. “Life on earth itself will not perish and neither will the earth. But whether humans will survive self-induced climate change, that’s the question. We have to be careful that species extinction doesn’t one day also hit Homo Sapiens,” says Peter Weibel.
»It’s about Life« accompanies the ZKM’s current program, which approaches biophilia in different ways. Artists and scientists come together with citizens and local initiatives. Dialogical tours, creative workshops, the digital reading circle »Ecophilia Reading Group«, film screenings on the ZKM’s forecourt or the experimental »Kitchen_Ferm_Lab« literally bring the biophilic approach of »It’s About Life to life«.
The program is hybrid, so it can be experienced at the ZKM and at any other place on earth.
IT’S ABOUT LIFE
Norbert Lenz (Curator)Peter Weibel (Curator)Eduard Harms (Co-Curator)Hannah Jung (Co-Curator)Philipp Ziegler (Co-Curator)
Technical project management
Andrew H. Knoll (Harvard University)
James W. Schopf (UCLA)
Volker Storch (Universität Heidelberg)
Helmut Tischlinger (Stammham)
Organization / Institution
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe