Karl Blossfeldt
Dispacus Laciniatus and Delphinium, from Wunder in der Natur, 1942
On loan to the exhibition The Measure of the World at Radius CCA, Delft, the Netherlands

Curated by: Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk and Sergi Pera Rusca

Radius starts the year with the group exhibition The Measure of the World, revolving around the ghosts of Western Enlightenment thinking and the relationship between science, truth-finding and the consequential creation of worldviews. With the work of fifteen artists, the exhibition forms a conversation starter for the Nature Cultures year program and presents a first counterpoint to the current crises that bear witness to the perverse reality of modernism.

The Measure of the World departs from the legacy of Western Enlightenment thinking. The Enlightenment, in its broadest sense, can be understood as the late 17th-century and 18th-century European period of progress based on empiricism—gathering knowledge from human experience—and rational thinking. This thinking has always been aimed at liberating people from fear of nature and establishing them as lord and master. Now that the lights of the Enlightenment have slowly dimmed, the wholly enlightened Earth is radiant with triumphant calamity and ecological decay. What have we actually inherited from the Enlightenment? What happened when the ideas spawned from this epoch turned out to be toxic?

Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) was known for his close-up photographs of plants. He is considered one of the main photographers of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). The photographers of the Neue Sachlichkeit movement thought of the camera as a tool for representing reality with complete objectivity. Thus, Blossfeldt often photographed plants in front of a white background, completely isolated from their environment. This was completely in line with the modern botanical logics, which decontextualised plants and flowers in order to study them.

Dispacus Laciniatus and Delphinium, from Wunder in der Natur originate from the Family Servais Collection.