Katja Davar: Globe of Glass

Fraunhofer IEE

September 21, 2022
Fraunhofer IEE
Joseph-Beuys-Str. 8
34117 Kassel

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The Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology (IEE) is delighted to announce the opening of the site-specific artwork Globe of Glass by Katja Davar, commissioned for the forecourt of their new research center in Kassel, Germany.

Globe of Glass is a large-scale, labyrinthine floor mosaic constructed in marble and other natural stone, an immersive drawing which invites people to interact with it playfully. It displays circular forms and cuneiform symbols, with the icon of SUN in its center metaphorically representing the future of our energy supply.

Questions concerning climate change and energy efficiency are becoming increasingly urgent. Economic growth as we know it continues to depend on fossil fuels, the consequences of which are catastrophic for the climate and the environment. The Fraunhofer IEE in Kassel focuses its research on finding solutions for the energy revolution, amongst others in the area of solar energy.

The title of Katja Davar’s work Globe of Glass, refers to an essay by Virginia Woolf, The Sun and the Fish from 1928, in which the author described the collective experience of a total solar eclipse on June 29, 1927. Witnessing the complete erasure of sunlight led the people present at the solar eclipse to consider the possible extinction of civilisation and to acknowledge the vulnerability and fragility of the planet. This is referred to in the text as a ‘globe of glass’.

The overlapping marble circles in Davar’s mosaic visually sketch the temporal development of a solar eclipse while at the same time pointing to the circular form of the human eye. In Virginia Woolf’s essay, the eye has the function of a protagonist; it not only makes the emotional experience of the eclipse possible but also secures its memorization – thus interconnecting past and future.

The Mesopotamian cuneiform symbol representing SUN is another important feature of the work Globe of Glass. Cuneiform script was developed around 3,300 years before our common calendar, in an area that is now mainly attributable to Iraq and Eastern Syria. It is the oldest known writing system and one of the most impressive achievements of humankind as its introduction marked the end of prehistory and the beginning of history. SUN is situated in the middle of the forecourt.

Katja Davar uses the form of a labyrinth, a complex spatial system whose history dates back to antiquity. Her labyrinth is made up of circles and cuneiform wedges which can be understood as symbolic of an existential crisis or situation. In addition to this, the highly abstract cuneiform "wedge" elements in Globe of Glass act as a metaphor for experimentation and invention which might lead to the production of pioneering new ideas and the possible development of energy solutions for the planet. Günter Schleiff from the Kassel-based architectural practice HHS Planer + Architekten AG responsible for the institute’s new building, highlights the "synergy" of the design of the forecourt "with the building itself, its architecture and its content".

Katja Davar is known for her precisely constructed drawings and animations that investigate the relationship between nature, technologies and society.

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft based in Germany is one of the world’s leading applied research organizations. Prioritizing key future-relevant technologies, it plays a major role in the innovation process.

Globe of Glass has been generously financed by the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Hessen. The work is accessible seven days a week and 24 hours a day.

For further information please contact uta.werner [​at​] iee.fraunhofer.de.