Philip Ursprung

Supervisor

Abstract

“17 Volcanos”

Reenacting Geology

Between2015 and 2017 we, and interdisciplinary group of artist, architects andscientists climbed 17 Volcanoes on the island of Java. We reenacted someexpeditions conducted in the mid 19th century by the German-Dutchexplorer Franz Junghuhn (1809-1864).  In2016 we reenacted the reenactment in the Harz area of central Germany, nearJunghuhn’s birthplace, and produced an artificial eruption on thevolcano-shaped slag heap of a former copper mine. In 2023 we presented part ofour work in an exhibition in Dresden, near the famous Grünes Gewölbe. Thisbaroque Wunderkammer, packed with gemstones and precious artifacts, isat the core of the European museal display system. An accumulation of preciousobjects, based on colonialism and extractivism it keeps haunting theimagination of the Western museum. How can we make productive this tension? Howcan we connect the current climate of opinions in the curatorial discourse withthe early phase of volcanology? Can we depict the work of exploration in the 19thcentury, the labor of mining, and our own mining of meaning onerepresentational level? Who can break the spell of the Grünes Gewölbe?

Bio

PhilipUrsprung is an art historian specialising in art and architectural history particularly from thelate 20th and 21st-century Europe and North America. His research focuses on the relationship between architecture and art in political and economicframeworks. Active as a historian, critic, and curator, Ursprung has taught atthe University of Zurich, Hochschule der Künste Berlin, Columbia University,and Barcelona Institute of Architecture and Cornell University. He edited‘Herzog & de Meuron: Natural History’ (2002) and is author of 'Die Kunstder Gegenwart’ (2010), ‘Allan Kaprow, Robert Smithson, and the Limits to Art’(2013) and ‘Joseph Beuys: Kunst Kapital Revolution’(2021). He is a professor of history of art and architecture at the Departmentof Architecture at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, where he served as Dean of thedepartment from 2017-19. In 2023 Ursprung represented Switzerland together withKarin Sander for the 18th Architecture Biennale Venice.

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Ines Weizman