Retreat into Darkness.
Towards a Phenomenology of the Unknown

I am bombarded yet    I stand
I have been standing all my life in the
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most
untranslatable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep    so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15
years to travel through me    And has
taken    I am an instrument in the shape
of a woman trying to translate pulsations
into images    for the relief of the body
and the reconstruction of the mind.

Adrienne Rich, Planetarium.
Thinking of Caroline Herschel (1750–1848)
astronomer, sister of William; and others.

In cooperation with Schering Stiftung we are looking forward to present the recently released publication RETREAT INTO DARKNESS. TOWARDS A PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE UNKNOWN.The book documents and reflects on the same titled exhibition by Ivana Franke, which was on show at Schering Stiftung Project Space in the spring and early summer of 2017, curated by Elena Agudio. This was accompanied by a symposium that took place at the Kuppelhalle of silent green Kultursquartier (SAVVY Contemporary).

On the occasion of the book presentation, Ivana Franke will talk with physicist and historian of science Juan-Andres Leon. The discussion, moderated by Elena Agudio, will delve into aspects such as the relationship between phenomenal consciousness, imagination and experience, in interplay with methodologies of scientific observation. In the context of SAVVY Contemporary, the conversation will also acknowledge that a great deal of modern science was built on exploitation, as for example European empires deploying science as both the means and the justification for dominating other cultures.

About the book:
In her project  RETREAT INTO DARKNESS. TOWARDS A PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE UNKNOWN the artist Ivana Franke explores our modes of perception when we are faced with a phenomenologically alien situation. Published by Spector Books, the book presents the various aspects of “retreat into darkness”: Ivana Franke’s installation at the Schering Stiftung, in which reflections of light in an absolutely darkened space facilitated ambiguous and disorienting visual experiences; experiments by cognitive psychologist Bilge Sayim; and discussions by internationally renowned researchers Jimena Canales, Pierre Gallais, Sylvia C. Pont, and Anil K. Seth.

IVANA FRANKE is a visual artist based in Berlin. Her investigations with light approach the interface between perception, cognition and environment, focusing on perceptual thresholds. In 2017, her solo exhibition Perceptual Drift (Galaxies in Mind) was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. Further projects included Disorientation Station (11th Shanghai Biennale) and Seeing with Eyes Closed (Peggy Guggenheim, Venice, 2011; Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, 2012). She represented Croatia at the 52nd Venice Biennale with a solo show titled Latency; her work has also been shown at Manifesta 7 and MoMA P.S.1.

JUAN-ANDRES LEON trained as a physicist and a historian before doing a PhD in the History of Science. Parallel to his academic trajectory, he has pursued a museum career that focuses on modern scientific instrumentation and computing. His work looks at the role of science as world transforming practice, political ideology and personal habitus. In his dissertation, “Citizens of the Chemical Complex,” he explored the world of science philanthropy in Imperial and Weimar Germany and its impact on the applied sciences, physics, mathematics and astronomy. He is now completing a monograph on the history of astronomy, astrophysics and space research in the second half of the 20th century in West Germany; his upcoming research also investigates postcolonial conflicts in the context of contemporary astronomical research.

ELENA AGUDIO is a Berlin-based art historian and curator. Her research is focused on the sharing and exchange of knowledge and skills across disciplines and cultures beyond the Western episteme. She is the artistic director of the non-profit Association of Neuroesthetics (AoN). Since 2013, she is artistic co-director at SAVVY Contemporary. Her latest and still running curatorial projects include We Who Are Not The SameExercises Towards The Unmaking Of Patriarchy, Control, Dominion And Other Male Cogito's Misplaced Potencies, a series curated with Nathalie Mba Bikoro and Federica Bueti; SAVVY Funk, an iteration of Every Time A Ear di Soun — a documenta 14 Radio Program, curated together with Bonaventure Ndikung and Marcus Gammel; and That, Around Which The Universe Revolves, curated with Bonaventure Ndikung, Anna Jäger and Saskia Köbschall. Elena and Ivana have been engaged in dialogue for the past eight years.