Terrestrial Perspectives

An exhibition about land art, land use and ecology with works from the collections of the Ludwig Forum Aachen and beyond

With Jean-Michel Basquiat, Betty Beaumont, Boyle Family, Lucy Davis (Migrant Ecologies Projects), Danielle Dean, Rackstraw Downes, Paula Erstmann, Mónica Giron, Nancy Graves, Michael Heizer, Irmel Kamp, Barbara & Michael Leisgen, Richard Long, Algirdas Milleris, Wolfgang Nestler, Arjuna Neuman & Denise Ferreira da Silva, Jüri Okas, Ramón Pacheco Salazar, Silke Schatz and Transformella cinis lützerathi

Terrestrial Perspectives brings together works which open up diverse perspectives on the complex interaction between humans and their environment. On show is a concentrated selection of around thirty photographs, prints, paintings, sculptures, and video works, complemented by a few performative formats. Starting with the collections and exhibition history of the Ludwig Forum Aachen, artistic practices from Land Art of the late 1960s through to the most recent present are featured which share an interest in engaging with the earth’s surface: from constructive and conceptual approaches through to critical perspectives on local and global structures of land usage, raw materials acquisition and exploitation, as well as the consequences resulting from dramatically changing natural environments.

The exhibition opens with a vitrine that provides insights into past projects and activities of the Ludwig Forum devoted to questions of ecology and sustainability. As early as 1994, three years after the museum opened in a former umbrella factory, an international group exhibition was held, Arte Amazonas. Climate Global, that was conceived on the occasion of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (1992). In 2010, the landscape architects Marc Pouzol, Véronique Faucheur, and Marc Vatinel (atelier le balto) reconfigured the park grounds of the museum to fit its use requirements and the cyclical growth of nature.

Following on from the history of the museum, this section presents a group of early Land Art works to show how different natural environments are approached and worked on as material. Other focal points in the exhibition are the economically driven and violent exploitation of natural resources and their ongoing consequences, for instance in the Amazon region or the brown coal fields in the nearby Rhine area: the video work Sooth Breath / Corpus Infinitum (2020) by the filmmaker Arjuna Neumann and the theorist Denise Ferreira da Silva refers to precisely this exploitation of the earth that has persisted since millennia, calling for a rethinking of the relationship between humans and their environment, while the artist Mónica Giron in her installation Ajuar para un conquistador (1993) brings to attention the plight of native birds in Patagonia, which are threatened or indeed already extinct as a consequence of colonialism. A contrast to this dimension is the video work Like Shadows Through Leaves (2021) of the Migrant Ecologies Projects founded by Lucy Davis – a homage to the cohabitation of people and birds along the former rail line at the residential complex of Tanglin Halt in Singapore, which due to the planned redevelopment of the area is to be demolished this year. In dialogue with complementing perspectives from invited artists, which span works and ideas by Betty Beaumont, Lucy Davis (Migrant Ecologies Projects), Danielle Dean, Paula Erstmann, Wolfgang Nestler, Arjuna Neumann & Denise Ferreira da Silva, Silke Schatz, and Transformella cinis lützerathi, selected collection holdings of the Ludwig Forum Aachen are reconsidered from a terrestrial viewpoint and together develop alternative visions for viable coexistence.

The title, Terrestrial Perspectives, is an allusion to Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (2018) by the French philosopher Bruno Latour (1947-2022), who expands the scope of the geographical concept of terrestrial with political, social, and ecological aspects. Against this background, the exhibition draws on different artistic approaches to show developments in humankind’s relationship to the environment and asks how terrestrial – or down-to-earth – forms of existence can acquire a new relevance for coexistence between humans, animals, and nature. In line with Latour’s approach, modes of existence are also presented which, on both local and global levels, focus on the recognition and preservation of all living creatures and organisms on earth, acknowledging them as political actors.

Beyond the specific thematic engagement with the works and the Ludwig Forum’s own exhibition history, in the coming months a series of workshops and events are to be held in which artists, visitors, and the museum team will cooperate to develop alternative spaces of action for ecologically-aware practices, considering for instance what makes up sustainable museum and exhibition work.

Curated by Lisa Oord as the final project of her curatorial traineeship at the Ludwig Forum Aachen.

Terrestrial Perspectives is part of a series of exhibitions with which the Ludwig Forum Aachen is pursuing a specific goal this year – to place greater focus on its own collections. Over the course of the coming months, the museum will gradually fill with presentations that reassess the Forum’s own holdings in light of contemporary processes of transformation, aiming to extend the thematic scope of the works and embed them in new contexts. Already implemented is the long-term project Training the Archive, for which an AI tool was developed in cooperation with the RWTH that can be used by visitors and curators alike in studying the collection. At the end of 2023, the presentation by Ulrike Müller in the collection was opened, developed on the occasion of her solo exhibition Monument to My Paper Body in dialogue with the Ludwig Forum director Eva Birkenstock (on show since December 2023). For the exhibition and research project Fragments of a Reality That Once Was. Encounters with Ukraine in the Ludwig Collection (since March 2024), the curator Galina Dekova, a research trainee in the NRW art museums program, has examined works from the former Soviet Union and central, eastern and southern Europe which up until now had been inventoried in the collection under the category “Art from the USSR.” Finally, on Sunday, June 30, 2024, two further collection presentations will open: a comprehensive thematic presentation in the “Klimaflügel” of the Ludwig Forum Aachen and a restoration lab presenting insights into the genesis and restoration process of the work Earth, Moon, Sun (1990) by Nam June Paik. Experimenting with different approaches to presenting works from the Ludwig Forum’s own collections, these exhibitions are laying the groundwork for a new comprehensive inventory catalogue, expected to be published at the end of 2025.

The opening of Terrestrial Perspectives is part of ELEMENTS 2024, a program for which eleven Euroregion art and culture institutions have merged to celebrate, together with the public, the diversity of contemporary art and the rich spectrum of renowned institutions in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion. The ELEMENTS Festival begins on Thursday, May 23, and concludes on Sunday, June 23, 2024. Participating institutions are: Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht; Bureau Europa, Maastricht; Het Nieuwe Domein, Sittard; Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht; Jester, Genk; Kasteel Estate, Wijlre; Ludwig Forum Aachen; Marres, Maastricht; SCHUNCK, Heerlen; Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design & Architecture, Hasselt; and Espace 251 Nord, Liège.

Image: Arjuna Neuman & Denise Ferreira da Silva, Soot Breath | Corpus Infintum, 2020, film still. Courtesy the artists


Saturday, 25.05.2024, at 3 pm
Guided tour with curator Lisa Oord (German)
Thursday, 13.06.2024, at 5 pm
Guided tour with curator Lisa Oord (German)
Thursday, 20.06.2024, at 5 pm
Guided tour with curator Lisa Oord (English)
Sunday, 30.06.2024, at 1 pm
Guided tour with curator Lisa Oord (English)
Sunday, 30.06.2024, from 2 pm
Terrestrial Connections
Culinary interventions with Paula Erstmann

Ludwig Forum Aachen
Jülicher Straße 97–109
52070 Aachen
Tel. +49 (0)241 1807-104
Fax +49 (0)241 1807-101

Opening hours
Tue-Sun 10am-5pm
Thu 10am-8pm
Closed on Monday

Tue-Fri 1pm-5pm

Guided tours and workshops
+49 241 432 4998

Regular € 6.00
Reduced € 3.00

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