Parcours dans la mer de ciel. A parcours through the ocean of heaven. Or: the Levitite

Listen to the story of van Berg and his adventure!

In this five-part intervention created by the duo Serotonin, the artists have developed five acoustic dioramas located in three exhibition rooms to comment subtly and productively on the history of research and collecting at the Museum für Naturkunde. The acoustic dioramas consist of five small presentation spaces that have been designed and constructed by the artists themselves – white cubes set up in peep-boxes belonging to the museum’s collection.

These visual, audio, and conceptual exhibits correspond to the five chapters of a bizarre expeditionary tale, written and produced by Serotonin. The year is 1884. The recently established German nation is struggling to gain recognition and a prominent place on a map of the world. The setting is the Tiergarten park in Berlin, where the crown prince grants a highly unofficial audience, and a cave in the future colony of Deutsch-Südwestafrika. Inspired by the levitation of a floating virgin presented in a variety show at the city’s Wintergarten venue, the young van Berg initially dreams of “an imperial fleet in the ocean of heaven”, but ultimately, thanks to a chain of coincidences to do with complex political interests of the time, becomes the leader of an expedition to Afrika.

Serotonin has turned the story of this research expedition into a humorous show compressing cultural history from a critical perspective. The five exhibits contain both sculptural and narrative elements, broaching complex topics such as crossing boundaries, defining oneself through the other, and the origins of national identity and a sense of Heimat.

Marie-Luise Goerke and Matthias Pusch are Serotonin. The intervention is curated by Gaby Hartel. Insights into the creative process can be found here!

On 3 September 1884 van Berg finally sits with Prince Wilhelm on a bench in the Tiergarten park.

© Museum für Naturkunde / Carola Radke