Day view, detail from inside, orangery of Neues Palais, Potsdam, 2021

Night view, orangery of Neues Palais, Potsdam, 2021

THIS IS NOT A THORNBUSH, 2020
Art in architecture project at Neues Palais,  University of Potsdam

 

88  laminated glass panes

 

    A field trip to Israel; the photograph of a thorn bush; Hundreds of colored squares on the glass front of the former orangery - This is not a Thornbush is the result of a process based on a symbolically charged plant and the question of what can be represented at all.

 

    In The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems (1974–75) Martha Rosler examines with photography and language, what she calls the “poverty of representation”[1]With regards to Magritte's work "La trahison des images", Michel Foucault asks what is to be understood under the "reality" of an object [2]. In Judaism, the unspeakable (unrepresentable) is linked to the name of God. The project This is not a Thornbush starts with questions such as: What can representation (and in particular photography) do in terms of religious content and experience? How are representability and areas of belief related? How can a discourse on these questions be initiated in a place of religious research and teaching? And: what do these considerations have to do with such a special place as a former orangery?

 

    This is not a Thornbush includes the design of the glass front of the south side of the former orangery of Neues Palais in Potsdam. The photograph of a thorn bush was freed from the background and enlarged to the size of the entire front. Through the process of enlargement, the representation of the thorn bush dissolves into its pictorial, smallest (digital) individual parts: monochrome squares. The process of taking a closer and closer look - zooming in and zooming in - ultimately leads to the loss of recognizability of the specific representation: the thorn bush remains as an idea, but as such is no longer recognizable visually. What remains is an algorithmic arrangement of colored areas.

 

The thorn bush, as a wild plant native to the desert, contradicts the former use of the building: an orangery generally houses valuable, exotic crops. The symbol of the thorn bush in the Hebrew Bible stands for, among other things, the minor [3], a simple place and the hardships of life [4].

 

The former orangery of the Neues Palais will host the Abraham Geiger and the Zacharias Frankel colleges for jewish theology, University Potsdam.

 

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[1] Rosler, Martha, zit. nach Homepage, Hammer Museum Digital Archive 2018

[2] Foucault, Michel, Dies ist keine Pfeife, Hanser (hansermanuskripte), München 1974

[3] Das Buch der Richter 9,7ff

[4] Genesis 3,18

Day view, detail from inside, orangery of Neues Palais, Potsdam, 2020

Day view, detail from outside, orangery of Neues Palais, Potsdam, 2020

Construction site, orangery of Neues Palais, Potsdam, 2020

Competition entry for Neues Palais, Potsdam, 2019

Renderings by Joseph Thanhäuser