01.02.2020 – 31.05.2020
Unfinished Histories Vol. VI
»The Better Alchemists. Contemporary Artists Respond to Leonhard Thurneysser
«Haytham El-Wardany und Monika Rinck
Vol V. of the multi-part exhibition project referred to the alchemical riddles of Leonhard Thurneysser, who lived in the monastery ruins in the 16th century and ran a printing press. Vol VI. continues and presents contemporary reactions to Thurneysser's work by Haytham El-Wardany and Monika Rinck. Curated by Katja Kynast and Hauke Zießler
31.5.2020 04 - 06:30 pm
The Better Alchemists in Dialogue
lecture, reading and talk with Haytham El-Wardany, Jasmin Mersmann, Monika Rinck
Hosted by Babes Bar with „Libations“
moderated by Paz Guevara
4 pm lecture:
Jasmin Mermann „Hyperphysik, oder: Die Transmutationen des Leonhard Thurneysser zum Thurn“
5 pm reading and talk:
Haytham El-Wardany „True Fables“ and Monika Rinck „Goldes Wert“
Due to the current situation the number of visitors is limited. Please RVSP at
When does a stone speak? A stone speaks when a situation becomes so inhumane that people have no words for it. And when does a donkey, a rat, a cricket and a turtle speak? They spoke in the 8th century in a book of fables called Kalila Wa Dimna, which was translated from Hindi into Farsi and later from Farsi into Arabic. Here they spoke not only to teach morality, but also to articulate a social antagonism between those who can speak the language correctly and those who cannot. Do animals still speak today? Who knows? But in moments of crisis and danger like ours, we must listen patiently, especially to the silence of those who are silenced. Perhaps then we will find a language that can save us. These are the questions that Haytham El-Wardany's »True Fables« deal with.
Full Text of »True Fables« by El-Wardany
His father was a goldsmith, and a street in the Berlin district of Wedding is named after him: Leonard Thurneysser, academic and charlatan. Born 1531 in Basel, died 1596 in Cologne, he spent many years in Berlin. His work intertwined different fields of research such as pharmacy, chemistry, metallurgy, botany, mathematics, astrology, astronomy, typography, metallurgy and medicine. The boundaries between science and magic were far more permeable in his time than is assumed today. To unite all these activities, the obvious choice was the profession of the alchemist, whose aspiration is, roughly speaking, to approach eternal life and infinite wealth without great effort. In her text installation »GOLDES WERT«, the author Monika Rinck deals with the life and work of the famous resident who once lived in the Franciscan Monastery in Berlin and explores the topicality and obsolescence of human desires.
Full text of »GOLDES WERT« by Rinck
The author Haytham El-Wardany was born in Cairo, Egypt and lives in Berlin. His latest book "The Book of Sleep" was published by Alkarma in Cairo in 2017. In 2013 he published "How to Disappear" with the Arabic publishing initiative Kayfa-ta (How to). The book deals with the nature of listening and attempts to fathom the potentiality of passive activities. El-Wardany is currently working on the legacy of ancient fairy tales and on talking animals as political creatures.
Monika Rinck (1969), German poet, prose writer, and essayist. Her first collection of poetry, Verzückte Distanzen (Zu Klampen), appeared in 2004; it was followed by the volume of essays Ah, das Love-Ding (Kookbooks 2006) and the collection of poems Honigprotokolle (Kookbooks 2012), among others. Rinck translates from Hungarian (together with Orsolya Kalász), Slovene, and English. She also performed with Ann Cotten and Sabine Scho as the Rotten Kinck Schow. In 2013, she received the Peter Huchel Prize and, in 2015, she was awarded the Kleist Prize, in 2016 the Ernst-Jandl-Prize. Rinck has taught at the German Institute for Literature in Leipzig and the Department for Language Arts (Creative Writing) in Vienna. In 2015, she held the Lectureship in Poetics at Münster. She is a Member of the Berlin Academy of Arts and Vice President German Academy for Language and Literature. Her most recent poetrybook is ALLE TÜREN (ALL THE DOORS), kookbooks 2019 and CHAMPAGNE FOR THE HORSES, S. Fischer Verlag 2019.
The programme is part of the multi-year series »Unfinished Histories«, which explores the relationship between history and poetry. The focus of the exhibition is a multimedia LED installation in the Klosterruine. During the seasonal closure of the Klosterruine until the beginning of May, the exhibition can be viewed from the outside every day between 10am-10pm. Artistic Production by Carolina Redondo