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Reading Matter explores the relationship between design and matter from ecological, historical and sensory perspectives. What underpins the cultural difference between matter and material? And what are the possibilities for the non-exploitative forms of existence in the material world?

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Atoms and particles, rare earth minerals and hybrid composites, precious metals and microwaves, matter is commonly perceived as a passive commodity ought to be mobilised to become material. But when approached through a lens of human productivity, only certain facets of matter get recognised as valuable part of the market. In this event, Evelina Domnitch will address strategies for expanding the human perception of the material forces and agency of matter, from chemical and quantum to micro-gravitational. Through performative environments and phenomenological experiments that exceed the scope of applied science and challenge the disciplinary boundaries, Domnitch invites to rethink the nature of human relationship with matter.

Using material and the concept of conductivity as a lens, Füsun Türetken will explore a range of instances where conflict and capital can be read through matter, more precisely metal. Acknowledging ‘metal as conductor of all matter’, her work proposes a theory of the complicity of metals as quasi-agents that influence and register events, and addresses metal’s role in shaping the world of finance, belief systems, geopolitical relations, (digital) bodies, even the stratosphere and the ‘climate-engineered’ weapons. Türetken will screen her latest film ‘Alchemic Desire’, which examines the parallels between the practice of trading metals at the world’s biggest physical metals exchange, the London Metal Exchange (LME), deleuzo-guattarian models of psycho-social dynamics, and the practice of alchemy.

The evening is moderated by design critic and curator Alice Twemlow.


The event is part of ‘Matter’ series, exploring the relationship between design and matter. It imagines different forms of engagements with materiality, and inquires what it means to design with social and ecological sensitivity in the age of escalating environmental crisis. The event is organised in conjunction with the Neuhaus programme for more-than-human knowledge, opening at Het Nieuwe Instituut in May 2019.

Evelina Domnitch

Evelina Domnitch received an MA in Philosophy from Belarusian State University. Forming an artist duo with Dmitry Gelfand, Domnitch creates sensory immersion environments that merge physics, chemistry and computer science with uncanny philosophical practices. Current findings, particularly regarding wave phenomena, are employed by the artists to investigate questions of perception and perpetuity. The duo has collaborated with numerous scientific research facilities, including LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory), the Atominstitut (TU, Vienna), RySQ (Rydberg Quantum Simulators), and with composer William Basinski; their work has been exhibited at Ars Electronica, TodaysArt, HKW, CTM, Bozar, and MAXXI among other venues.

Füsun Türetken

Füsun Türetken, a former fellow of Het Nieuwe Instituut, is Professor of Productdesign at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe HfG) in Germany. Füsun works across disciplines and scales, applying a transdisciplinary teaching methodology. She further lectures at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK) and at the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam. She runs Studio ft., a platform that hacks into contemporary conditions of institutions by supporting collaborative work. Her PhD at Goldsmiths is titled 'On the Most Powerful Catalyst on the Planet' and provides a reading of conflict and capital through matter, more precisely metal. She has recently shown work at STUK Leuven at 'Rare Earth, Stories from Below', Artefakt 2018; Impakt Festival and Fiber Festival, 2017, BAK Utrecht 2017, Goteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art in 2013; the Venice Biennale in 2006 and 2008 respectively. Türetken has written articles on a variety of topics ranging from academic subjects to popular culture, including 'Modern Love Algorithms and ARTs' and 'Encountering the Contemporary' with Irit Rogoff in Volume Magazine (2016), and "Breathing Space: The Amalgamated Toxicity of Ground Zero“ in Forensis, the Architecture of Public Truth, Sternberg Press (2014). In 2008 she was director of the German Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale and has been an editor and curator with Shrinking Cities in Berlin for four years. Her academic background lies in architecture, design and visual culture.

Alice Twemlow 

Alice Twemlow is a design critic, curator and research professor at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) where she leads the Lectorate Design: Design and Deep Future, and and an associate professor at Leiden University in the PhDArts programme. Her research focuses on design’s complex interrelations with time and the environment, and in particular on the material manifestations and the meanings of design when it is disposed of and becomes trash. She was the founding director of the Master Design Research, Writing & Criticism at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and head of the Design Curating & Writing Master at Design Academy Eindhoven. She holds a PhD in Design History from The Royal College of Art and Victoria & Albert Museum, London and is the author of Sifting the Trash: A History of Design Criticism (MIT Press, 2017).

19:30 – 21:00

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam

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.