Plastic Age

The Fascination with and Horror of Plastics

12 September – 13 December 2014

Claire Morgan - The Beautiful and the Damned

Claire Morgan, The Beautiful and the Damned, 2013, © Claire Morgan, Courtesy Galerie Karsten Greve

Tobias Rehberger - Prothese IV

Tobias Rehberger, Prothese IV (linker Arm), © Tobias Rehberger, Courtesy neugerriemschneider, Berlin


Plastic is everywhere and everyday life without it is almost unthinkable. It makes our lives easier and more colorful. It is cheap and can be manufactured in any desired form. For those reasons alone, more and more of it is being produced every year. Worldwide production in 1950 was 1.7 million tons. By 2012, that had increased to 288 million tons. Or, in other words, in the past ten years as much plastic was produced as in the previous century.

But the success story of this indestructible and marvelously versatile material has a downside. Productions conditions and chemical stability are a formidable challenge to the material cycles of our planet. Ever-growing mountains of garbage, islands of plastic in the oceans, the accumulation of micro plastics in our waters and in foodstuffs such as honey or milk not only afflict the environment but endanger our health.

On the other hand, a future without plastic is unimaginable and amazing progress has been made in polymer research. Modern plastics present new possibilities in the generation of sustainable energy. In medicine, plastic implants are increasingly becoming promising alternatives to titanium and ceramics.

The visual arts are also exploring the possibilities of plastic. Artists are experimenting with the vast innovative potential of plastic and are using its intriguing diversity and malleability for their works of art. At the same time, they are well aware of the implicit problems in regard to humanity and the environment. That thematic inherent ambivalence is often what attracts them to it.

The goal of the ERES Foundation project Plastic Age is to shed light on the fascination and dread we have of this unique material from both artistic and scientific perspectives.


Paweł Althamer, Michael Beutler, Juliette Bonneviot, Olaf Holzapfel, Christoph Knoch, Bert Löschner, Philipp Messner, Claire Morgan, Alexandra Navratil, Dan Peterman, Tobias Rehberger, Tom Verbruggen



Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue, EUR 5,00
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