Special Exhibition WHAT IS TO BE DONE? On the Meaning of Human Labour
Press Info 017 of 27.04.2012
People really have problems with labour: Sometimes it is too much, sometimes it is too little. Often it is low-paid and sometimes even not paid at all. Some people are hopelessly overworked, while others are desperately searching for a job.
The special exhibition "WHAT IS TO BE DONE? On the Meaning of Human Labour" deals with this issue in an unusual way. Until 16 September, the Senckenberg Naturmuseum Frankfurt raises fundamental questions on labour in five room installations: How to distinguish between work and leisure time? What is the purpose of work in a capitalist society? How does one's individual attitude towards work develop? What is the significance of work beyond power, money and appreciation? What are the options for tomorrow's work environment?
"Apart from considering social developments, this exhibition attaches great importance to the prospects of the individual person: one's personal concern about earning a living, satisfaction and social acceptance and, last but not least, the function of work as a meaningful activity. It reveals that usefulness cannot be the ultimate argument, when it comes to understanding the meaning of labour, that payment is not the sole criterion for work, or that vocational training paths which only focus on the current requirements of the labour market are rarely beneficial. After all, the exhibition asks the question about the opportunities in a mutually supportive society, which should be strengthened by a policy that does not hide behind the perceived constraints of the globalised economy", explains Prof. Nicola Lepp, curator, Praxis für Ausstellungen und Theorie (Office for Exhibitions and Theory), Berlin. Hence, the exhibition focuses on the indispensability of the social aspects in the sense of the elementary care of the society for all of its members.
Dietmar Schmid, President of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (Senckenberg Society of Natural Reserach), says about the special exhibition: "With this exhibition we offer extensive installations, state-of-the-art museological didactics and a lot of interaction. Playful elements, like a card game, call on visitors of any age to understand that labour is more than just a source of income. With this exhibition we implement the interdisciplinary approach of combining cultural, natural and social sciences and make the first steps on the road to the new cultural campus."
The cultural and present-day subject of "Labour" is suited for an interdisciplinary experiment like hardly any other issue. "In debates and panel discussions we bring together experts from the fields of natural and social sciences, policy, culture and economy to discuss how to shape our present-day and future labour environment. In parallel, there will be a film festival at the Orfeo's Erben Cinema, demonstrating how multifariously cinema has adopted the subject of labour", says Dr. Jan Gerchow, Director of the Historisches Museum (Historical Museum) Frankfurt.
Exhibits are hardly displayed in the classical sense. It is rather the rooms that spread their argumentation based on film and video installations especially developed for this purpose. Every section has been devised in close cooperation of scientists and artists to achieve a great density of aesthetic quality and contentual/educational ambition.
"The innovative approach of the exhibition and the persistent topicality of the subject are excellently suited for an interdisciplinary Frankfurt experiment. The Senckenberg Naturmuseum and the Historisches Museum Frankfurt jointly tackle this significant issue between the potentially conflicting poles of human nature and culture", stresses Caroline Romahn, Head Official of the Cultural Office in Frankfurt am Main.
Under the conditions of globalisation, international financial crisis and the imminent consequences of climatic change, the environment of labour is changing to such an extent that it can no longer fulfil its common social function. The idea of a trade or profession learnt once that determines one's individual place in society and gives one's life rhythm and individual meaning can hardly be realised any more today. More than ever the question arises: What is labour and what is it good for?
"We are glad that the exhibition 'WHAT IS TO BE DONE? On the Meaning of Human Labour' comes to Frankfurt. This exhibition is an opportunity for the people in our region, especially for those who are in the phase of vocational orientation, to deal with the issue of work in a completely new way and from different angles", outlines Peter Weißler, general manager of the unemployment insurance division, regional directorate of Hesse.
The special exhibition is based on an exhibition of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum (German Museum of Hygiene) in Dresden. "This modified version now features also references to the Senckenberg Naturmuseum and the Historisches Museum Frankfurt. Most striking certainly is the relation to the animal kingdom. So there is now an "animal track" leading through the exhibition that creates a relationship to at least one animal in each of the exhibition rooms", adds Christoph Wingender, press spokesman of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden. Animal motifs are reproduced on posters and banners. The integration of the animal world simultaneously intensifies the content of the exhibition, i. e. the debate on the issue of "Labour", and gives it a playful touch.
2. May to 16 September 2012, Wolfgang-Steubing-Halle, Senckenberg Naturmuseum Frankfurt
Background information on the exhibition, the supporting programme and further details are available on the exhibition blog.
The exhibition is supported by the Federal Employment Agency.
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Researching life forms in their diversity and their ecosystems, climatic research and geology, the search for past life and finally understanding the complete system of life on earth – this is the objective of the SENCKENBERG Gesellschaft für Naturforschung. Exhibitions and museums are the display windows of natural research, through which Senckenberg imparts current scientific findings to people and provides an insight into past eras as well as the diversity of nature.