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Schinkel Pavillon: HUMAN IS | until 23.07.2023

Editors’ Choice

Schinkel Pavillon is currently showing the exhibition HUMAN IS. Distinctions between dystopia and reality are increasingly collapsing in the face of unstoppable technological and ecological upheavals. Against this background, Human Is uses science fiction as an intellectual and aesthetic vehicle to mobilise alternative future scenarios, political imagination and a new posthuman ethic. The exhibition borrows its name from the short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick (1955) and negotiates humanity as a disputable and reversible category.

Image above: Ivana Basic, Belay My Light, the Ground Is Gone, 2018. Wax, pink alabaster, blown glass, breath, dust, weight, oil paint, print, stainless steel. Courtesy of the artist. Ian Cheng, Emissary Sunsets The Self, 2017. live simulation and story, infinite duration, paint, sound. Courtesy the artist and Pilar Corrias, London and Gladstone Gallery, Brussels. Joachim Bandau, Black dormant hose monstrosity, 1972. Fibreglass reinforced polyester resin, pigmented, mannequin segments, C-hose couplings, Vacuflex hose. Courtesy of the artist and the Neues Museum Nürnberg. Image: Frank Sperling, 2023.

Since the 19th century and the advancing capitalist, scientific and technological progress, science fiction has offered a mirror of the changing “conditio humana” of a respective time and its values, fears and limitations. In science fiction, the seemingly external threat of extraterrestrial, supernatural or artificial life often turns out to be man’s fear of the cultural conditions he has created and experienced himself. The enormity of the unknown rises up and shakes the limitations and centrality of the human protagonist.

Human Is brings together historical, seminal, as well as newly produced artworks. The exhibition paints a polyphonic picture of the interpenetration of body and technology: it addresses the often violent entanglements of humans with their technological environments, opposes promises of salvation from transhumanist progress, and at the same time opens up spaces of possibility in which dualistic taxonomies can be overcome in favour of a networked existence. Human Is uses science fiction and speculative fictions to transcend the humanist idea of being human on the one hand, and the species of anthropos on the other, through material and perspectival border zones. In doing so, the works also make visible hierarchies of power that have traditionally dehumanised others. Afrofuturism, for example, imagines a society in which BIPoC* persons can live on an equal footing, beyond the history of discrimination and exploitation, and not infrequently employs strategies of mutation, hybridisation and camouflage.

DEEDS NEWS - Courtesy of the artist - Photo Frank Sperling
Ivana Basic, Belay My Light, the Ground Is Gone, 2018. Wachs, rosa Alabaster, geblasenes Glas, Atem, Staub, Gewicht, Ölfarbe, Druck, Edelstahl. Mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Künstlerin. Bild: Frank Sperling, 2023.

For many, the collapse of the systems we rely on is no longer a distant apocalyptic future. Visionary science fiction author Ursula K. le Guin sees fictional stories as containers through which the possibilities of human experience and knowledge can be rediscovered apart from linear narratives of progress. Through them, destructive processes and alienations of contemporary existence can also set creative things in motion, towards a new ethics of relationality that may no longer be genuinely human.


Joachim Bandau, Ivana Bašić, Ian Cheng, David Cronenberg, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Matthew Angelo Harrison, Tishan Hsu, Mike Kelley, Alexander Kluge, Tetsumi Kudo, Fritz Lang, Nour Mobarak, Sandra Mujinga, Diane Severin Nguyen, Mary Shelley, Ovartaci, Analisa Teachworth, Suzanne Treister and WangShui

Curated by Nina Pohl & Franziska Sophie Wildförster
Project Management Teresa Minn
Research Assistance Samuel Staples
Curatorial initial idea by Laura López Paniagua


Schinkel Pavillon
Oberwallstraße 32
10117 Berlin-Mitte


Event period:

Sunday, 19. March – Sunday, 23. July 2023

Extended opening hours on Gallery Weekend:

Wed – Fri: 2pm – 8pm
Sat – Sun: 11am – 8pm

Opening hours:

Thu – Fri: 2 – 7 pm
Sat – Sun: 11am – 7pm

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Thomas Hoepker 1936-2024