As you are climbing the stairs of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MK&G) you hear a sound that intrigues and attracts, emanating from a sound installation that envelops the visitor into a new environment, in which you can lose yourself. Orsimanirana, the exhibition at the Hamburg museum, from 22 January to 25 July, invites the public to experience the museum in a different and more participatory way from the traditional one. The show arose from the collaboration of the internationally acclaimed designer and artist Jerszy Seymour, Amica Dall of the London based architecture collective Assemble and Emanuele Braga from the Milan based activist artist group Macao. The three met in 2019 and recognized the potential to combine their experiences. Tulga Beyerle, the director of the museum, offered them the opportunity to implement it in the museum setting. A transformation unfolds within five connected rooms of the museum. The walls, ceilings and floors of the museum, painted in bright colors, are totally transformed and project the visitor into an imaginary world. A large sandbox makes walking unsafe. The idea is to free ourselves from the structures and rules we know to find a new way of living with the other elements of nature, with the idea that the current way of living has not worked. “With the basic, and even innocent, desire to bring equality and harmony among humans, race, gender, sexuality, non-humans, and the environment and foster as many forms of happiness and spirituality as possible, Life on Planet Orsimanirana is an attempt to lay a joyful foundation aimed at re-creating the world we want to live in, in practical, imaginary and symbolic realms” (from curators’ introduction).

EXHIBITION VIEW 3 Life on Planet Orsimanirana – Working Space © Jerszy Seymour Design Workshop and the artists, photo: MK&G/Henning Rogge

TOUCHE TOUCHE, Sub-Antic Crackossian Slabs, 2019, © Touche Touche, Photo: Ties BemelmansSELMA KÖRAN (*1989), Automated Jelly Dispensing Half Head, 2019 © Selma Köran

The five rooms of the exhibition display the works of dozens of artists and collectives who have contributed to creating the universe of Orsimanirana. Among the contributions there are testimonies of activist groups that have been fighting to create a better world to live in. The name Orsimanirana derives from the association of three Italian words: “Orsi is the Bear’s Head – as the primordial contradictory emotions of fear, guilt, and joy of death, in relation to the dark night. Mani – the Man’s Hands – as our quest for domination over mortality through technology. Rana – the Frog’s Legs – as our chance to jump over perceptual, cognitive, and physical horizons.”

ASSEMBLE, OTOProjects – “Standing on the walls”, 2013 © AssembleASSEMBLE, OTOProjects – Complete exterior view, 2013 © Assemble

One of the exhibition halls has been transformed into a radio station that broadcasts programming and where visitors can also record their own contributions. The idea is to transform the museum into a place where visitors can actively contribute to the exhibition, as a meeting, a place for the community.

MACAO, Untitled, 2012, © MACAO, Photo: unknownMACAO, Occupation of Torre Galfa, 2012, © MACAO, Photo: Eugenio Marongiu

By Silvia Anna Barrilà