Constant Nieuwenhuys-Ladderlabyrinth, 1967-3

New Communities


Our current outlook on life is coloured by the prospect of losing the world such as we now know it. Not only are demands for fundamental changes becoming increasingly vociferous they are being made by a wide variety of actors. What new ideas do we need for the future? And how can we rethink what seems to be inevitable? Against the backdrop of this current state of affairs, the exhibition New Communities showcases past and present ideas for alternative models of living together. The works, concepts and ideas presented in the exhibition revolve around the vision of an ideal community whose members live in unison with nature, in equality, peace and harmony; they settle in new places and harness cutting edge technologies to make them habitable. That longing for a community that has yet to be founded or no longer exists is what interlinks all these exhibits and is the driving force behind them. Historical concepts for an ideal community are related to current artistic ideas of reconnecting with nature and new forms of living together and that includes non-human forms of life. The exhibition seeks to foster our awareness for continuities, cross-references, and indeed ruptures.

The exhibition comprises a prologue and six chapters: they are presented in circular architectural elements related to one another. Starting with the German “Lebensreformbewegung” (Life Reform Movement) and its community on Monte Verità, the presentation continues via a “tangible utopia” – in the idea for a holistic school for the Ruhr district by Folkwang-founder Karl Ernst Osthaus and Bruno Taut, crystalline glass buildings by Taut and Wenzel Hablik, the notion of Homo ludens that inspired Constant to conceive of New Babylon through to Hippie Modernism with Anna Halprin’s Planetary Dance, the long-established utopia lived on a daily basis in Auroville in southern India, and Superstudio’s gigantic structural reform for the planet through to the historical and current Afrofuturism that will be presented by the guest curator Anaïs Duplan. The final, concluding chapter showcases contemporary art positions that meander through the entire exhibition and link or contrast past positions with current issues.


    24 November 2023 - 17 March 2024

    Location (museum)

    Museum Folkwang

    Location (city, country)

    Essen, DE


    Anna Fricke

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