With the exhibition Not a civilization, but you, Ellen Martine Heuser invites us to think about how and with what is our environment built, and to see our active
With the exhibition Not a civilization, but you, Ellen Martine Heuser invites us to think about how and with what is our environment built, and to see our active role within it. Having this in mind, the workshop with the children from the neighborhood center Grone focused on linking life and stories with materials.
The workshop was organized by Katherin Gutierrez and Johanna Brummack and started with a short, sensorial walk to the exhibition site. Through the course of this walk, the children gathered objects and materials. They were asked to feel them and to guess what the objects were made of and what was their purpose. This search triggered conversations about the differentiation between materials and their relation to the happenings of the city, for example, “There’s color and flowers because people get married here”; to think about the distribution of downtown Göttingen in terms of the found material like “there’s more paper because there are shops nearby” and “we found plastic and rocks together here because there’s a construction site”
Arriving at the exhibition spiked their curiosity, the children received it in an active and participatory way. After quickly exploring the galleries a few details created interesting reactions, like the particularly unexpected water in the Dorf space or the far too delicate line of rocks. The contrast between new and older metal triggered questions about temperature, color, and shape. Beyond the material, when seeing the bell, the children were especially fascinated by being able to touch and play with an element of the exhibition and create such a penetrating sound with it. This spirit of interaction crossed the rooms and the senses: some even saw the pieces of clay in Nekropolis as cookies and tried to taste them.
As a strategy to relate the found objects, and by extension the materials from which their surroundings are made, to their everyday lives, we proposed a storytelling activity in which the children needed to relate the collected objects with a concept that gave the material meaning. With these meanings, they could narrate a story by placing the objects in a particular order or moving them to create a micro-action play. They found snakes in plastic stripes, houses in paper brochures, and love in flower petals. The stories related to their own lives, like imagining their parents falling in love; others about stories they already knew like those with witches and princesses. Some of the children did not find stories but preferred to experiment with shapes, like replicating the metal cuts from the work Mausoleum with paper and setting it up in different parts of the room, as a result, learning about the malleability of material and its effect in the space.
Through the course of the workshop, we could observe the different approaches children had; the younger ones were very interested in learning the different shapes plastic, paper, or metal can take, while the older ones were especially concerned about composition and rhetoric. In the end, they were invited to talk with the group about their final pieces, which challenged the more timid participants, for whom we tried to create an environment of trust and acceptance. Whether it was about the exhibition’s subject, experimenting with contemporary art, or challenging social interactions, the workshop triggered the children’s curiosity in different ways. We hope that, even in small and quiet forms, this reflects in the way they see themselves within our society and we can talk about it together, the next time they come by.
18. Mai (Mittwoch) - 18. Mai (Mittwoch)