Exhibition Critical Zones. In search of a common ground

Critical Zones Kolkata © ZKM Karlsruhe and GI-SAS

Thu, 16.02.2023 -
Sun, 02.04.2023

Indian Museum

The exhibition will be opened on Thursday, 16 February 2023 at 5:00 pm. The opening programme will include a walkthrough of the exhibition with one of the curators, Mira Hirtz.

The exhibition project Critical Zones. In Search of a Common Ground invites visitors to engage with the critical situation of the Earth in a novel and diverse way and to explore new modes of coexistence between all forms of life. To remedy the generally prevailing disorientation and dissension in society, politics, and ecology concerning the changing state of the planet, the exhibition project sets up an imaginary cartography, considering the Earth as a network of Critical Zones.

The term Critical Zone is taken from the geosciences and describes the fragile layer of the Earth, its surface, which is only a few kilometres thin and on which life is created. In addition to emphasizing the vulnerability of this thin layer, the term also sheds light on the numerous controversies that have triggered new political attitudes towards it.

Critical Zones. Observatories for Earthly Politics was conceived and exhibited at ZKM- Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (2020–2022) based on a concept by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel. For the Goethe-Institut South Asia, a travelling adaption of Critical Zones titled Critical Zones. In Search of a Common Ground is co-produced by the ZKM- Karlsruhe, and the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai. It shows a selection of artistic positions and is complemented by further works from Indian and Sri Lankan artists. Mira Hirtz and Lena Reitschuster are the curators of the exhibition in Kolkata.

The South Asia tour of the exhibition began in Mumbai in October 2022.  After being presented in Mumbai and Pune, it is now being presented in Kolkata in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and Indian Museum, Kolkata from 16 February 2023 to 02 April 2023. The exhibition will further be presented in New Delhi and Bangalore.

The exhibition and its activation program have been adapted for the local audiences in close dialogue between the curators, art mediators and the Goethe-Institut Kolkata. The core aim of the project is to investigate and address the Critical Zone at each station by making the conversation as locally relevant as possible, within the larger framework of the exhibition idea, hence each station will include further dialogues and co-creative moments to investigate and analyse what are the issues of importance for each particular location – its Critical Zone and its inhabitants. The exhibition Critical Zones invites visitors to engage with the critical situation of the Earth in a novel and diverse way and explore new modes of coexistence between all forms of life.

The exhibition in Kolkata will also include showcasing of two additional works by Nilanjan Bhattacharya from Kolkata and Maksud Ali Mondal from Santiniketan, West Bengal.


During the exhibition Goethe-Institut Kolkata along with the filmmaker and artist Nilanjan Bhattacharya have designed an array of programmes around the exhibition. The programmes include a collective round table conversation, artists’ talks and interactions, and exhibition walkthroughs with the curator.

Critical Zones. In Search of a common ground is presented in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and Indian Museum, Kolkata.



Mira Hirtz Mira Hirtz/Photo: Karolina Sobel MIRA HIRTZ

Mira Hirtz is a performance artist, art mediator, and art theorist basing her work on somatic practices. She explores the value of creativity for human beings and non-human beings in many different formats such as workshops, performances, video pieces, and texts. She worked as an art mediator at documenta14, co-curated the program series “How do we care?” at Badischer Kunstverein 2020 and co-curator of the touring exhibition “Critical Zones”, initiated by the ZKM | Karlsruhe, the Goethe-Institut South Asia, and Bruno Latour.

Lena Reitschuster © Lena Reitschuster/Photo: Jana Hofmann LENA REITSCHUSTER

Lena Reitschuster studied South Asian Studies and Religious Studies at Heidelberg University, Philosophy and Curatorial Practice at HfG Karlsruhe, and Media Studies at The New School in New York. Her research is located at the intersection of philosophy, biology and art. She is interested in the history of ideas and notions around interspecies dependencies, emerging cosmologies and the conceptualizations of broad scale system change in the face of ecological crisis. During the past three years, she was part of the Critical Zone Study Group initiated by Bruno Latour in preparation of the »Critical Zones« exhibition at ZKM. The sessions involved discussing concepts and theories practically, experimentally and philosophically.

Nilanjan Bhattacharya © Nilanjan Bhattacharya NILANJAN BHATTACHARYA

Nilanjan Bhattacharya is a filmmaker, artist, and writer. Many of his documentaries and artworks explore issues like biodiversity, food cultures and related indigenous knowledge in India. He was the initiator and implementer of the interdisciplinary projects– the Interpretative Interactive Archive on Kolkata and Urban Ecological Mapping in collaboration with a group of local children. He was the creative consultant for the first ever online version of the Indo-European Residency Project in Kolkata. Nilanjan lives between Kolkata and Leipzig.


The ZKM - Center for Art and Media is a unique cultural institution located in Karlsruhe, Germany. With its art collection, publications, archives, and artistic, scholarly and scientific research on the electronic arts, the ZKM stands for a program of interdisciplinary projects and international collaborations. In its exhibitions, symposia, concerts, and workshops, the ZKM communicates the theoretical discourses of philosophy, science, technology, politics, and economics from a contemporary artistic perspective.