One of the most important German artists of the postwar generation, Heinz Mack has been reshaping the relationship between art and technology since the 1950s. With his Sahara Project of 1959, which developed an artistic vision of a modern solar power plant, he was far ahead of his time.
Mack designed a »jardin artificiel,« an artificial garden, for the Sahara, in which his sculptural objects interacted with the space and light of the desert. Light was collected and amplified on the surface of the objects, which in the boundless expanses of the desert created light phenomena flooded with light that literally vibrated. The desert as a »non-place« offered the artist the ideal conditions to make light and space appear in their purest form. Mack realized the Sahara Project during the 1960s and 1970s not only in the Sahara sands of Tunisia and Algeria, but also in the Greenland desert of ice; however, certain aspects of the project remain utopian to this day.
The exhibition in the foyer of EnBW invites visitors to approach Mack's monumental Sahara Project through photographs, collages, and objects, and to comprehend the power of an artistic vision as the forerunner of an energy source that today is a reality. It demonstrates how artistic utopias can manifest themselves in reality, can anticipate and shape social discourses.
Heinz Mack's works, which capture light, reflect it, refract it, and as such elevate it to the status of an essential design element, bear witness to a pioneering achievement that can be found in today's photovoltaic systems, in their conversion of light energy into electrical energy by means of solar cells. Mack's approach to nature and technology both raises questions and offers paths to solutions that take on relevance in the light of the challenges posed by the present human-made climate catastrophe.
The exhibition in the EnBW foyer ties in with the exhibition »Mack at ZKM« (16.9.2023–7.4.2024) at ZKM | Karlsruhe.
EnBW is a long-term a premium partner of ZKM.