Gustav Mesmer, © Stefan Hartmaier / Gustav Mesmer Stiftung
Exhibtion view, Photo: Sebastian Bolesch © Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Mar 3–May 8, 2011

Der Traum vom Fliegen - The Art of Flying

Exhibition, lectures

The mistranslation in the double-barreled title is deliberate: one the one hand, the curators Thomas Hauschild and Britta N. Heinrich are interested in the human dream of flight, while on the other hand, they address the technology of human flight as powered by combustion processes.

In an obstacle course through time and space – from the Montgolfière to the oldest and most invaluable Shaman’s cloak, from model jet aircraft to the fictitious “Ingold Airlines” – answers are sought to questions such as: has human technology fulfilled all humanity’s dreams? Would it have been possible without primitive but extremely durable technologies for throwing, shooting, riding? What if humanity had to abstain once again from the realization of some technological goals (space travel, cheap passenger air travel), and how would it go about fulfilling the dream of flight in such a case?

The exhibition allows visitors to experience for themselves the fantasia of flight by exploring a space trainer for astronauts. It provides an introduction to the bird’s eye view and to aviation technology, documents prehistoric and ethnological evidence of human throwing and shooting techniques along with engine technology, “bird people”, rocket and pilot seats. Visitors get to know the flight techniques of birds and insects and the lives of aviation pioneers and Shamans. They get acquainted with the links between mystic levitation, ceiling paintings and Montgolfière technology in the Baroque era. Ancient Chinese and Peruvian visions and technologies of flight go hand in hand with rocket launch-pads in this obstacle course.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of lectures examining the diverse forms the human dream of flight has taken. The series begins with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago, business consultant, and one of the world’s leading theoreticians of the synergy between physical experience, cerebral activity and the narrativity of flow.

Curators: Thomas Hauschild and Britta N. Heinrich
Co-curators: Jörg Potthast and Viktoria Tkacsyk
The exhibition architecture was designed by the sculptor Hansjörg Hartung