25 March 2024

LUNÄ Talk: Energy (In)Dependency

Kunsthalle Mulhouse, Mulhouse, FR

LUNÄ (Marjolijn Dijkman, ongoing since 2011) is based on the Lunar Society of Birmingham, which was formed from a group of amateur experimenters, tradesmen, and artisans who met and made friends in the Midlands from 1765 till 1813. The original Lunar men (hardly any women joined the society) gathered together for lively dinner conversations, the journey back from their Birmingham meeting place lit by the full moon.

Members included the larger-than-life Erasmus Darwin, the entrepreneur Matthew Boulton, the perceptive engineer James Watt, whose inventions harnessed the power of steam, the radical polymath Joseph Priestley, who, among his wide-ranging achievements, discovered oxygen, and the innovative potter and social reformer Josiah Wedgwood. Their debates brought together philosophy, arts, politics, science, and commerce. As well as debating and ‘discovering,’ the ‘Lunatics’ also built canals and factories, named plants, gases, and minerals, managed large businesses — and changed the face of England. Many members were also influential figures concerning the abolitionist movement, female education, and social rights.

“I SELL HERE, SIR, WHAT ALL THE WORLD DESIRES TO HAVE — POWER.” – Matthew Boulton on the Boulton & Watt Factory, Birmingham, 1776

On the evening of 25 March, when the moon is full, the LUNÄ Talk will focus on transitioning from one energy to another, from one infrastructure to another. How can we envisage transitions without considering the need to bring history to a close before embarking on new projects? The history of energy is written as a race towards the new, towards renewal, without ever questioning the possibility of moving towards solutions of repair or transformation. It’s about turning pages and arguing that the future will be more efficient, appropriate, or cleaner. These political choices will be discussed over a few hours, involving the guest speakers and anyone else interested.

The LUNÄ Talk is part of the exhibition Power Up, Technical Imaginaries, and Social Utopias, which refers to energy infrastructures from a feminist perspective. This collaborative project explores links between technical worlds, common goods, and connected representations.

Marjolijn Dijkman, artist and moderator of the LUNÄ Talk
Maarten Vanden Eynde, artist and co-host of the LUNÄ Talk
Fanny Lopez, historian of architecture and technology, co-curator of the Power Up exhibition
Clémence André, engineer in charge of urban planning and connections at Territoire d’énergie Hautes-Alpes
Marie Lechner, teacher-researcher at L’École supérieure d’art et de design d’Orléans, author and exhibition curator
Stéphanie Schmitt, partnership relations manager, UEM

With a written letter to the participants of the LUNÄ Talk to catalyze the discussion by Cara New Daggett (Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech, author of ‘The Birth of Energy’)

Time: 18:00 – 21:00h.
La Kunsthalle Mulhouse Centre d’art contemporain
La Fonderie 16 rue de la Fonderie 68093
Mulhouse Cedex, France