Burn Out at E-WERK

02.07.2023 | Blog | BY:

This weekend, just outside of Berlin, a recommissioned power station hosts Burn Out – a summer symposium weekend of music, performance and discussion to truly address the power of art and radical change.

E-WERK Luckenwalde is a fully functioning power station re-envisioned as a sustainable Kunststrom Kraftwerk by curator Helen Turner and artist Pablo Wendall. The former coal power station built in 1913 – which ceased production in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin wall – was acquired by the couple in 2017, and since this gigantic space has played host to some of the foremost names in music and contemporary art. Legends including FM Einheit and Suzanne Ciani have resonated through the building, whilst artists from Himali Soin Singh to Cooking Sections have provided propositions on sustainability – a key focus for this iteration of E-WERK. In 2021, E-WERK hosted and curated the German premiere and only CO2 neutral performances of Golden Lion awarded opera Sun & Sea by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė.

Burn Out – presented at this extraordinary location – seeks to address climate and capitalism, de-growth, and environmental imperialism. The symposium is all about driving ecological, economic and human change to the cultural sector.

Helen Turner as Artistic Director of E-WERK and Burn Out describes, her vision for the programme “the earth sighs deeply with the weight of its own planetary and human exhaustion. Hypercapitalism, the hamster wheel, chronic stress, repetitive strain injury, the rat race and perma-crisis – Burn Out. The hope for systemic change, a slower pace, better working conditions, planetary calm, economic and ecological progress all appear to have faded, and once again humanity and the planet is burning out. This event will bring together artists, thinkers, activists and more to consider how we can catalyse systemic change for the future”

E-WERK have put their money, power and politics where their mouth is – and as such it feels no institution is better placed to host and mount this discussion. In 2019, Performance Electrics gGmbH formally switched the power in the former factory back on, so now it powers itself, and is alos available as an energy provider – a true intervention in the mechanisms of power within the country. E-WERK produces an average of 900,000 KW/h a year, using renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind and wood gas. and now supplies energy to cultural institutions, businesses and private households. By switching energy provider, the client simultaneously supports the development of renewable electricity and contemporary art through their utility bill.

The extraordinary turbine hall at E-WERK currently hosts a stunning exhibition entitled The Material Revolution with a solo presentation by RA graduate Kira Freije who welds her intimate and uncanny human-scale sculptures and for this exhibition worked with a lighting designer and subtle haze to create a feeling of total transcendence and sacred stillness in this historic space.


Further iterations of a series of symposiums at E-WERK and LUMA Arles, Rupert Centre for Art and Education in collaboration with Gallery Climate Coalition on human and planetary sustainability will continue throughout 2023.




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