Growth, what is that? is an exhibition that examines growth’s fundamental premise. In the exhibition, a series of spatial installations made from rebar form an entangled labyrinthine mesh. Each installation explores a different theme and a question that relates to growth. One, for instance, features a myriad of magnifying glasses, encouraging you to question your perspective. From which angle are you looking at growth? Another installation initially appears to be a giant, beckoning cat but is made up of hundreds of golden beckoning cats. All their little paws move frantically to lure in more fortune. This begs the question: When is it enough? There is a phone number next to each installation. When you call it with your phone, you hear Malmö’s residents reflecting on their perspectives on growth.
Malmö Museum, Malmö (SE)
Growth is something we all strive for. But is what we call growth actually growth? The “market” acts as an authority and point of reference in our lives. It has taken hostage of our common idea of growth. To endure the pain, we collectively embark on a quest of “fixing the problem”, using the same approach that got us into this mess in the first place. We anxiously mend and maintain this idea of growth by adding prefixes: sustainable, equal, social, green, etc. Like a fairy tale no one believes in anymore but still needs to pursue. Complex, deeply intermeshed global issues are eroding our hard-wired societal systems. This calls for another line of reasoning.
We customised the light design and soundscape for each specific theme. They contribute to an atmosphere of wonder and imagination. The experience is an invitation to imagine other ways of looking at growth that are beneficial to the well-being of humans and non-humans. The answers we search for are not to be found in nations, religions or institutions, nor in politics, economics or ecology. Instead, the answers are to be found in the relationships between them. The installations express the rich potential of these “in-between” states of relations and connections.
We borrowed most materials from local companies and will return them after the exhibition is over. For these materials, the exhibition is just one stop in their lifecycle. This approach urged us to work with unusual suspects both in terms of materials and collaborations. For example, we borrowed the rebar from a local construction company. Apart from its use as reinforcement material in the building industry, the rebar symbolises a system based on the linear growth paradigm. This installation can arise anew anywhere with local materials. It shows us how much already exists that we can use, without the need to produce anything new at a financial and ecological cost.
Petra Trobeck and Lina Fogelberg (Morphosis) approached Kossmanndejong with their idea for an exhibition on growth. There was no collection or content. They had a space at the Malmö Museum, a critical attitude towards growth as a linear concept and a sense of urgency to change that. Kossmanndejong eagerly accepted and, together, we ventured on a challenging journey. In this partnership, we explore growth as a topic, how to translate it into a physical experience and how to make it relevant for the exhibition’s specific location. The exhibition reflects its context by directly involving local people in the exploration of the question of growth. Growth, what is that? is a flexible format that can be adopted by and adapted to every context, sparking new conversations and insights. As designers, we see it as our responsibility to create spaces for reflection that contribute to a healthy and equitable future. With this exhibition, Kossmanndejong and Morphosis hope to connect with many more people, communities, companies and institutions around the question of growth. Let’s grow this conversation together!