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Denver Art Museum presents “Biophilia: Nature Reimagined”

DRIFT, Meadow, 2017. Site-specific kinetic sculpture; variable dimensions.

@ 2023 DRIFT. Represented by PACE Gallery. Photograph by Oriol Tarridas, courtesy of Superblue Miami

Sun, May 5 - Sun, Aug 11  2024

Multisensory exhibition explores humanity’s instinctive desire to connect with the natural world through architecture, art, and design. Iris van Herpen, Nacho Carbonell, Studio Gang, Simon Heijdens, teamLab, Joris Laarman, and DRIFT are among trailblazing designers and artists featured.

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) will present Biophilia: Nature Reimagined, a multisensory exhibition that brings together more than 70 imaginative works, including architectural models and photographs, objects, fashion, digital installations and immersive art experiences that collectively highlight the transformative power of nature. Featuring works by an international roster of designers and artists including Iris van Herpen, Nacho Carbonell, Studio Gang, Simon Heijdens, teamLab, Joris Laarman and DRIFT, among others, Biophilia will be on view from May 5 through August 11, 2024, in the museum’s Anschutz and Martin & McCormick galleries on level 2 of the Hamilton Building and is included in general admission.

“Biophilia” is the term popularized by American biologist and author Edward O. Wilson to describe his theory that, as humans have evolved as a species, they have been intricately intertwined with the natural world. Wilson’s hypothesis invites deep reflection and poses relevant questions for audiences to consider life in our hyper-accelerated digital and urban-centric world. Organized by Darrin Alfred, Curator of Architecture and Design at DAM, Biophilia provides a space for leading architects, artists and designers to re-examine and reanimate our intrinsic bond with the natural world.

Biophilia explores the human need to connect with the natural world and its ability to improve our health, spark the imagination, and strengthen personal and community relationships,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM. “Engaging visitors of all ages, Biophilia invites us to reflect on our innate bonds with nature through inspired works of architecture, art, and design that evoke the structures and phenomena found in the natural world.”

“This exhibition examines the myriad ways in which the human spirit is interwoven with the natural world and the power of creative practices to maintain and strengthen that connection,” said Alfred. “The works in Biophilia tap into our deeply embedded bond to our environment and its benefits to our minds and bodies.”

Biophilia is organized into three themes, based on the aspects of nature that most impact our well-being: Natural Analogs: Form and Pattern; Natural Systems: Processes and Phenomena; and Topophilia: People and Place.

Natural Analogs examines the simulation of naturally occurring shapes, sequences and patterns with varying degrees of abstraction. The reproduction of nature’s complex and nearly inexpressible geometries has become possible in new and efficient ways with advanced computational technologies. In this section of the exhibition, Nervous System design studio’s Floraform Chandelier takes its form from differential growth, taking inspiration from the ruffled edges of flowers. The hanging light was developed with generative algorithms and fabricated using an additive 3D-printing process. The Floraform Chandelier casts a dense forest of shadows, enveloping the viewer in an environment of algorithmically grown plant forms.

Natural Systems explores nature’s processes and phenomena, with a focus on seasonal and temporal changes. These works create meaningful, direct connections with the natural rhythms of life, particularly through movement and multi-sensory interactions. Meadow, by Dutch artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta of DRIFT, is a kinetic installation that features colorful mechanical flowers suspended from above that open and close in an ever- changing choreography. Meadow’s rhythmic and perpetual motion captures our attention effortlessly allowing the mind to relax and recover.

Topophilia considers the emotional connection between people and their physical environment. These works reflect a native ecology or landscape and convey a distinct sense of one’s culture or homeland. In a collaboration between Terrol Dew Johnson, a Tohono O’odham artist and basket weaver, and the New York and Tucson-based design studio Aranda\Lasch, the Desert Paper series celebrates the rich material history of the Sonoran Desert and the intricate relationships between the land, its resources, and the Indigenous communities that call it home.

Biophilia features work by Andreea Avram Rusu, Fernando and Humberto Campana, Nacho Carbonell, DRIFT, gt2P (great things to People), Simon Heijdens, J. MAYER H., Alexandra Kehayoglou, Joris Laarman, Mathieu Lehanneur, MAD Architects, Elena Manferdini, Nervous System, PELLE, Studio Gang, teamLab, threeASFOUR, Iris van Herpen, and David Wiseman, among others.

The exhibition is accompanied by a free digital publication with contributions by Florence Williams, a journalist and author; Cedar Sigo, a poet and member of the Suquamish Tribe; Kimberly Ruffin, Associate Professor of English at Roosevelt University and a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide; and Kit Bernal, Curatorial Assistant, Denver Art Museum. It will be available for download for free from the museum’s website.

Biophilia: Nature Reimagined is organized by the Denver Art Museum. Support is provided by the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign and the residents who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine and CBS Colorado.

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