Wanwu Council: Manifesto

20 October 2021 to 15 November 2021

The Gropius Bau presents the manifesto Gropius Bau(m): Becoming Wanwu, the result of the three-day meeting Wanwu Council 萬物社 which was initiated by Zheng Bo as well as a video of the council’s final discussion. Wanwu Council: Manifesto is still in process: visitors can write down suggestions in the exhibition, a selection of which will be displayed on the wall.

Zheng Bo: Wanwu Council 萬物社, work meeting in the exhibition space, 2021, Gropius Bau

Zheng Bo: Wanwu Council 萬物社, work meeting in the exhibition space, 2021, Gropius Bau

© photo: Laura Fiorio

From 6 to 8 August 2021, Zheng Bo held the first Wanwu Council meeting, which took place as part of his exhibition with the same title. During his time as the In House: Artist in Residence 2020, Zheng Bo worked with the term from Daoist philosophy, wanwu. Translated as “ten thousand things”, “myriad happenings” and also “more-than-human”, wanwu designates the infinite possibilities of life in all its forms. In this moment of climate and ecological crises, Zheng Bo states “if we really want to move into a future where humans are not the centre of the world, we need to treat other forms of life and materiality with full respect: biologically, intellectually and politically.”

Wanwu Council brought together twelve participants to discuss how the Gropius Bau can move towards a sustainable future that respects all species, states and matters. The flourishing plane trees to the west of the building caught Zheng Bo’s attention. He renamed the car park Gropius Wood to honour this more-than-human community. Microbes are another presence at the Gropius Bau, which humans seldom perceive. The manifesto highlights that the Gropius Bau is already wanwu. The meeting took place in Gropius Wood, Grumsin beech forest in Brandenburg, as well as the exhibition spaces, where the Wanwu Council members wore scarves depicting the other life forms or matter they were channeling.