The practice of Julius von Bismarck (b. Breisach am Rhein, 1983; lives and works in Berlin) probes what is commonly labeled as nature. He insistently deconstructs his chosen objects to inquire into how we as a society shape and value nature and who controls the interpretations involved in this process. Intertwining visual art with concerns in the natural and human sciences, his work takes on richly diverse forms: installations, happenings, sculptures, or land art pieces. Von Bismarck brings a sense of humor and critical acumen to bear on our frequently oversimplified views of nature and explores how these can influence past and present discourse about politics. Beholding his magical creations—the artist filmed fires, chased hurricanes, painted on the high seas—one is deeply conflicted; they are terrifying and beautiful at once.
The catalogue When Platitudes Become Form expands on Bismarck’s exhibition of the same title at Berlinische Galerie, the first show for which he chose a biographical approach, drawing on his own family’s history, with contributions by international scholars as well as numerous installation views and images of his work. It includes an introduction by Thomas Köhler and Anne Bitterwolf, and essays by the literary scholar and philosopher Timothy Morton, the landscape architect Violeta Burckhardt, the art historian Paul Farber, and others.