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.
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 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 is an architect, artist and urban designer engaged with water and public space. Her book The Architecture of Bathing: Body, Landscape, Art, published 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.
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.
Lithium Cosmologies and Energy Landscapes
What is the story behind the creation of a battery powered future? Through contributions by Unknown Fields (Kate Davies and Liam Young) and astronomer Francisco Förster, the third event in the TNL! Lithium series will explore the cosmological origins of lithium, and its role in the ‘green’ energy transition.
Lithium Dreams: Extraction in the Salar de Atacama
A lecture by architect and researcher Godofredo Enes Pereira explores the consequences of lithium extraction in the Atacama Desert in Chile. This is the first in the Lithium lecture series, discussing the role of this element in different conditions of burn-out.
From Burn-Out to 7UP: On Lithium and Mental Health
The second event in the TNL! Lithium series will address the relationship between lithium and mental health. Contributions by the LiCo (Lithops Corporation) collective
and anthropologist Emily Martin will explore the role of lithium in our culture of productivity, and the cultural life of mania.