The tongue for exchange and dialogue, the eye for visual thinking, the ear for sound and silence, the skin for feelings and temperature, the nose for scent and taste (or its absence), the lungs and diaphragm for deceleration and rhythm, the skeleton and muscles for support and traction, the stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys and spleen for reflexive synthesis, the thyroid gland, gall bladder and pancreas for converting and secreting, the genitals for friction, stimulation and reproduction, blood, veins and arteries for non-verbal transmission, the nervous system for ergonomic reflex, the brain for relearning and inquiry, and the heart as the complex common ground created by artworks.
Based on a concept devised by Clémentine Deliss and developed with students from Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, the Metabolic Museum-University (MM-U) engineered a temporary and experimental infrastructure that squatted the exhibition spaces of the 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, Crack Up – Crack Down. Like a benign tumour, it fostered conversations between artworks by altering the ergonomic framework encountered by the public and dislodging expectations through simple gestures that encourage repose and reflection. The flexible furniture, designed by the MM-U team with a home camping aesthetic in mind, allowed Biennial visitors to sit down, read, listen to lectures and engage in informal conversations and rehearsals. The folding chairs featured their own tongue-table, retina-light and mini-beamer that allowed participants to project images and information into the empty space between the exhibits, effectively spamming the installation and developing their own personalised image-atlas.
Each day, the Metabolic Museum-University was based at a different venue of the Biennial. Instead of university departments, there were organs; instead of an event programme, members of the guest faculty proposed a series of stimuli that responded to, and playfully elaborated upon, the existing exhibitions curated by Slavs and Tatars. Each day reflected an alternative organ. Organs of the week thus included Lungday (performance), Tongueday (speech and translation), Eyeday (visual thinking), Brainday (humour and satire), Skinday (emotions), Liverday (detox) and Heartday (trust and alliances). With the participation of local and international artists, scientists, historians, independent thinkers and students from different disciplines and backgrounds, the MM-U aimed to nurture the democratic intellect, providing the oxygen necessary for an emancipatory process to take place within the museum, transforming it from a site of controlled consumption into a co-working space of inquiry.
The MM-U was open to all and every visitor was a potential student. The exercises in visual adjacency initiated through the free-style educational infrastructure of the MM-U sought to identify new metaphors, environments and images that gave greater visibility to pressing issues affecting our common lives.
The Metabolic Museum-University was a production of the Department of Exhibition Design and Scenography at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design in collaboration with the 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, Crack Up – Crack Down and the International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC). It represented the collective endeavour of Francesca Romana Audretsch, Janina Capelle, Lizzy Ellbrück, Teresa Häußler, Diane Hillebrand, Cécile Kobel, Christina Scheib under the direction of Prof. Dr. Clémentine Deliss and with the supervision of Prof. Andreas Müller and Prof. Dr. Matthias Bruhn.