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The final event in the TNL! Lithium series will recharge online visitors with a lecture by architect Christie Pearson on the intricate history of European spa towns and public bathhouses, and their relations to different forms of power. Following that, set designer Katrin Bombe will give insight into the scenography of the Lithium exhibition, staged as a mineral spa.

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Since its discovery in 1817, lithium has been known for its healing powers, and used to treat physical and mental disorders. By the late 19th-century, prestigious spa resorts opened around lithium-rich mineral springs, including the famous Lithia Springs, Carlsbad and Baden-Baden. Those bathing architectures were not only centers for rejuvenation, but also the sites of power, where elements have been harnessed successively by empire, church, aristocracy, state and capital.

From Roman baths to spa towns and Soviet sanatoriums, the spa has served as a prototype for new cultures, communities, and collective practices. Inspired by these histories, the exhibition Lithium—currently on display at Het Nieuwe Instituut—has been designed as a spa resort, energizing visitors through a variety of treatments. This online event will discuss the key ideas behind the scenography of the exhibition, and the role of lithium in treating human exhaustion.


Katrin Bombe

Katrin Bombe studied stage design and art direction at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and psychology at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. In the 2008/2009 season she worked as an assistant set designer at the Schauspiel Frankfurt, and has since worked as a set designer for theater, opera and film in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Switzerland. She teaches stage design at the HKU in Utrecht and the theater school in Maastricht.

Christie Pearson

Christie Pearson is an architect, artist and urban designer engaged with water and public space. Her book The Architecture of Bathing: Body, Landscape, Artpublished by MIT Press in 2020, explores the aquatic commons through global forms of the public bath. She is a founding member and editor of the critical journal Scapegoat: Architecture/Landscape/Political Economy and teaches at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Her interdisciplinary research, writing, installations and events have been widely published and presented at KUNCI Yogyakarta, Storefront for Art and Architecture New York, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Aga Khan Museum Toronto, and the Canadian Center for Architecture Montreal.

TNL! Lithium

Complementing the exhibition Lithium, which is currently on show at Het Nieuwe Instituut, this discursive programme seeks to recharge online visitors with a series of lectures and conversations. From mineral extraction to mental exhaustion and renewable energy landscapes, each event will expand on the role of lithium in the different conditions of burn-out that are addressed in the exhibition.

Thursday Night at Het Nieuwe Instituut
Luca Napoli

Thursday Night Live! is a weekly programme of lectures, screenings and discussions on architecture, design and digital culture. Developments and critical insights are discussed by thinkers, designers and makers from the Netherlands and abroad.