The Presence of Absence – Matter and Traces / Imprints of Life in Time

12.10.2024 — 02.03.2025

Opening on October 11, 2024, at 6:30 PM

The exhibition is a cooperation with:
Senckenberg Society for Nature Research and
Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP) of the Goethe University Frankfurt

With the patronage of the Italian Consulate General in Frankfurt

With Heidi Bucher, Lawrence Malstaf, Marshmallow Laser Feast, Petra Noordkamp, Claudio Parmiggiani, Toni R. Toivonen and with exhibits from the Archaeological Site of Pompeii, the Prehistoric Museum of Florence, the Natural History Museum of Vienna, the LWL-Museum für Naturkunde Münster and the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Goethe University Frankfurt

Curated by: Franziska Nori, with scientific support from Anita Lavorano and Laura Perrone


The exhibition The Presence of Absence will occupy the entire exhibition space of the Frankfurter Kunstverein, covering 1,000 square meters. Thematically, the exhibition revolves around humanity’s timeless engagement with the idea of transience and its forms of representation in art. The title refers to matter as a presence where traces of the living are inscribed. Vital energy is powerful yet fleeting. It leaves a mark, a trace that, captured in matter, can endure over time.

The exhibition will juxtapose exhibits spatially, presenting the abstract idea of a “presence of the absent” from both artistic and scientific perspectives within an expanded conceptual space. The curatorial narrative will venture as far as the astrophysical phenomenon of the black hole. Thoughts on the expanse and time, and the infinity of the universe lie beyond our human imagination, yet simultaneously raise the question of who we are. Our planet hovers somewhere between immensity and eternity. And for a fleeting moment, our own lives open a window.

The self experiences the wonder of reality through the senses of our bodies. These consist of the elements of exploded stars in the cosmos: the nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our bones, the iron in our blood, or the carbon in our cells. In fleeting moments, we connect with eternity and give traces of being a material form. Art is one way to do that.