Humboldt Forum
© SHF / Jannis Pätzold

Friday, September 13, 2019

Programme for the birthday of Alexander von Humboldt. All events will take place in the original language, mostly with translations into German/English/Spanish.


Please drop by at 9 pm and bring some waiting time. We are waiting for you at the south entrance of the construction site (Schlossplatz/Breite Straße).
Online registration has ended.

Cosmos I

7–8 pm, Open Doors 6 pm
Admission is free.
This time slot is booked out.

7–8 pm
Lecture by Andrea Wulf

Grasp the current relevance of Alexander von Humboldt in this talk by his biographer and acquaint yourself with aspects of Humboldt’s works and personality.

Alexander von Humboldt. Art, Science and Adventure
Andrea Wulf

Andrea Wulf's bestseller “The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World”, published in autumn 2016, has won many awards and sold almost 700,000 copies worldwide. It has succeeded in making a broad public enthusiastic about the life and work of the natural scientist and universal scholar. Humboldt's “press spokeswoman”, as Andrea Wulf likes to imagine herself, will be drawing the audience right into his world in her lecture. In her own, very lively way, she allows her listeners to participate in her research, which took her in Humboldt's footsteps across Europe and America. Her unique and multi-layered report illuminates not only the universal genius, but also the human being Alexander von Humboldt from a European perspective and establishes valuable links to the here and now.

Cosmos II

7.30 pm–2 am, Open Doors 7.15 pm
Admission is free.
Please drop by at 9 pm and bring some waiting time. We are waiting for you at the south entrance of the construction site (Schlossplatz/Breite Straße).
Online registration has ended.

from 7 pm

Discover contemporary and historical outlooks on Alexander von Humboldt from Latin America.

Archivo Alexander von Humboldt
Exhibition by Fabiano Kueva, co-curator: David Blankenstein

The Archivo Alexander von Humboldt by the Ecuadorian artist is a long-term project lasting more than ten years. Since 2009 Fabiano Kueva, starting with Humboldt's trip to America, has been exploring the question of the archive in an artistic-discursive manner using film, exhibition and documentation. Kueva not only traces Humboldt's journey, he also takes a closer look at his gestures, words and practices of collecting and sorting. By re-staging famous works of Humboldt, he reveals the patterns of thought hidden behind the “scientific” journey. What strategies did Humboldt use to stage his work? And how did Humboldt change our view of science and truth?

La naturaleza de las cosas: Humboldt, idas y venidas / The Nature of Things: Humboldt, Comings and Goings
Contemporary artists in dialogue with works of art and documents from the 18th and 19th centuries, curated by Halim Badawi

The exhibition shows the presence of the Humboldt tradition in contemporary Latin American art. On his travels through Latin America (1799-1804), Humboldt gathered impressions from the lush and politicised territory of the “New World” on rivers, in the uplands, on mountains and volcanoes. The exhibition traces his footsteps on this journey right up to artistic praxis in Latin America today. Selected works show that the burning questions of our time had already revealed themselves in the times of Humboldt’s expedition to the Americas. The exhibition shows the visitor how close the development of science and art is linked to political, economic and social developments, especially in a country like Colombia where an abundant world of nature, geographical diversity, biodiversity and mineral resources go hand in hand with inequality and exploitation, an extractivist economy and deforestation.

Artistic contributions:

  • contemporary: Antonio Bermúdez, José Luis Bongore, Luis Carlos Camargo, Camilo Echavarría, Gianfranco Foschino, David Guarnizo, Alfredo Jaar, Regina de Miguel, Carlos Motta, Andrés Matías Pinilla, José Alejandro Restrepo, Liliana Sánchez, Óscar Santillán und Experimenta/Sur: Tejidos conectivos;
  • historic: Ricardo Borrero Álvarez, Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Clarkson, Ida Esbra, Pancho Fierro, Baron Jean-Baptiste Louis Gros, Felipe Santiago Gutiérrez, Alexander von Humboldt, Theodor Koch-Grünberg, Erwin Kraus, Maria Sibylla Merian, Andrés de Santa María, Sunqua, Ramón Torres Méndez.

A publication is to be released with the exhibition containing information about all of the works being shown and about the participating artists (available in the exhibition space)

from 7.30 pm
Walking Act Perfomances

Understanding decolonial perspectives on Latin American Realities.

El carguero / The Carrier
Jean Lucumi

In his diaries Humboldt describes the figure of the porter in the colonial social system. The porters, men of African or indigenous backgrounds, carried travellers and goods on their backs. The performance artist Jean Lucumi links this figure with questions about education in today's post-colonial societies, where the inequalities from the colonial system of enslavement and exploitation based on ethnicity continue to survive in a different form. The freight that Lucumi carries is the texts that shaped his school days. A burden that he discards in the course of the performance and which initiates discussion about the connection between education and global social orders.

In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut. The performances are presented as part of „Experimenta/Sur: Tejidos conectivos“ and „La naturaleza de las cosas: Humboldt, idas y venidas“.

from 7.30 pm
Music and DJs

Latin American sounds and beats

DJ Claudio

from 7.30 pm

Take a virtual walk in Alexander von Humboldt’s footsteps and find out about indigenous perspectives.

VR installations

Juyeco Humboldt

4Direcciones Audio Visionaries

This team from Bogotá has developed a mixed reality application that incorporates sounds and movements, augmented reality elements and immersive sounds from the environment it is located in. The indigenous community house becomes a meeting place. Humboldt's South American journey is mirrored from the perspective of indigenous thought, encouraging us to engage with indigenous perspectives on knowledge and the environment through physical experience. Juyeko Humboldt aims to decolonise consciousness through the medium of ritual dance.

Alexander VR Humboldt

Sunset Fox

Humboldt's ambition to map the world is still fascinating today. In its virtual reality application, the team from Mexico City focuses on the explorer’s instruments. Using measuring devices such as sextants or altimeters from Humboldt's luggage, the researcher's everyday life can be experienced in five different missions. Humboldt's Mexican travel route is traced from his arrival in Acapulco to Mexico City.


Virtual Penguins

In this virtual reality application from Lima, visitors immerse themselves in a world inspired by video game aesthetics. They have to walk through a narrow mine tunnel, follow the instructions of a rabbit and climb steep mountain slopes. The commenting voice of Alexander von Humboldt, which embeds the events in a historical context, provides orientation.

360˚ Films

Humboldt360˚ | An expedition in Latin America

Tim Hamelberg

This 360-degree film retraces Alexander von Humboldt's travels in Colombia and Ecuador. Accompanied by original quotations, visitors travel through today's Latin America. In four episodes, the film takes on Humboldt's precise way of looking at the world as a cultural scientist, ethnologist and critic of colonialism, racism and exploitation, showing the image of Latin America that people travelling find there today. The journey stops along the way at Cartagena, Bogotá, Quito and the Chimborazo.

Kaji (Sacred Coca)

Diana Rico, Richard Décaillet

Kají (Sacred Coca) takes the viewers on an expanded audiovisual journey to the Amazonian rainforest. There, they encounter a 14,000-year-old tradition at the centre of which one finds the plant of wisdom. The 360° film provides a unique opportunity to explore the seldom visited region and to immerse oneself in the cultural origins of the coca plant and see how it is used in the Amazon region. The film provides an insight into the world of this secretive plant and the daily life of the Jaguar shamans of Yurupari on the Piraparaná River in Vaupés in Colombia.

In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut.

8.30 pm

Understanding decolonial perspectives on Latin American Realities.

De bogas y remeros / Of Bogas and Rowers
by Mara Viveros, with Liliana Angulo Cortés, Julián Díaz, Stephan Micus

In this performative lecture, anthropologist Mara Viveros refers to one of the few texts by Humboldt in which he describes a human being and the physical nature of his work. She presents this text in contrast to the story of the everyday life of a man, and Afro-Colombian, who lives on the coast and is possibly a descendant of the man described by Humboldt. The reading by Julián Díaz and Liliana Angulo Cortés is accompanied by improvisations from Stephan Micus, who followed in Humboldt’s footsteps along his route on the Orinoco as part of the Experimenta/Sur.

In cooperation with the Goethe-Instiut. The performances are presented as part of „Experimenta/Sur: Tejidos conectivos“ and „La naturaleza de las cosas: Humboldt, idas y venidas“.

from 9 pm
Music and DJs

Dance to Latin American sounds and beats!

DJ Claudio, La Payara (9 pm)
La Payara is a project led by the Colombian DJ and producer Claudio Tantimonaco. Strongly influenced by artists who combine traditional Latin American sounds with electronic beats, La Payara merges folklore with psychedelic sounds, cumbia and Afro-Colombian rhythms. La Payara played at the Resident Advisor Bogotá Party and for the Redlight Radio special edition Bogotá. They had their debut in Europe in summer 2019, where they played in front of an enthusiastic audience at the Glastonbury, Roskilde and Fusion festivals.

Agua e Lulo’s featuring (10 pm)
Camilo Montero aka DJ Camo, José Luis Urriago aka DJ Jolun, Gleibis Gil aka DJ Lionza, Maque Pereyra aka DJ Maque Tumai

Agua e Lulo's is a Colombian cultural event for fans of Latin American music in Berlin. Since 2013, they have been playing music from Colombia and Latin America in the capital city, trying to promote the Colombian and Latin American image in Berlin and Germany through music, artistic development and folkloristic diversity, and to enable other Berlin-based cultures to find out more about Colombian culture. Four DJs bring a special music mix and Latin flow to the Humboldt Forum, representing their diversity and different cultural roots.

10.30–11.15 pm

Understanding decolonial perspectives on Latin American Realities.

El viaje de formol / Formaldehyde Trip
by and with Naomi Rincón Gallardo, San Cha, Friedolin Obersteiner, Pete Prison IV, Danishta Rivero

This performance presents a mythical world: the journey of the murdered Mixtec activist Alberta “Bety” Cariño through the underworld is depicted with the help of videos, songs and talking. During this politically surrealistic journey she finds companions in widows, enchanted animals and deities who accompany her to a rebirth ceremony. An axolotl soaking in formaldehyde simultaneously plays the role of storyteller, travel guide and a ghost object abducted during a colonial expedition. Humboldt had seen, drawn and described the Mexican “walking fish” axolotl in the waters around Mexico City. With this mythical narrative, the performance highlights the interdependent nature of the exploitation of natural resources and the oppression of Mexico's indigenous population.

In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut. The performances are presented as part of „Experimenta/Sur: Tejidos conectivos“ and „La naturaleza de las cosas: Humboldt, idas y venidas“.

Projections on the East Facade

9 pm–2 am, freely accessible
No registration required

from 9 pm

Experience Alexander von Humboldt in moving pictures and quotations and let indigenous naturalists show you the starry sky of Amazonia.

Still young at 250!
Animation on the east facade

On what would have been his 250th birthday, the east façade of the Humboldt Forum becomes the setting for Alexander von Humboldt's life and thought. “Everything is Interaction” - his central statement about nature and the world - will be explored in an interplay of light, images and architecture. It is a journey into the complexity and enormous variety of this dazzling scientist, researcher and philosopher.

O Ciclo Anual no Rio Tiquié / The Tiquié River Annual Cycle
Damião Amaral Barbosa, Felix Rezende Barbosa, Aloisio Cabalzar, Raiz Campos, Mikko Gaestel, Thiago Oliveira, Ismael Pimentel dos Santos, Andrea Scholz et al.

More than 200 years after Humboldt’s journey along the Rio Negro in the north-west Amazon, the relationships between the indigenous peoples of this region and Ethnologisches Museum Berlin are more alive than ever. Thanks to intense cooperation over the last years, these worlds and world views will now meet one another for the first time here in Berlin’s city centre. The projection on the eastern façade of the Humboldt Forum is the result of a collaborative project that brought together indigenous and non-indigenous artists as well as Brazilian and German ethnologists. Together they translated indigenous myths and observations about stellar constellations and the annual cycle in a visual narrative. This saw the emergence of a positive tension between the modern forms of the building and the complexity of indigenous ideas about time, ecology and ritual. The outcome opens up a space to the Berlin public for visual encounters between two worlds that have shared a common legacy since Humboldt’s days.