17. February 2022

A Year of Art at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics

INHABIT guest artists Pamela Breda and Sajan Mani

The 2022 INHABIT guest artists: Pamela Breda and Sajan Mani (photos: Pamela Breda, Upendranath TR; picture: MPI for Empirical Aesthetics)

The year 2022 promises an abundance of artistic highlights at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics (MPIEA) in Frankfurt am Main. From now until April, the artist Syowia Kyambi will be completing her project as part of the 2021 cohort of our artist-in-residence program, INHABIT. April is then when the residencies begin for this year’s guest artists, Sajan Mani and Pamela Breda. And October will see the opening of Contact Zones, an exhibition of works by all three of last year’s INHABIT residents, in Frankfurt’s Museum Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Art).

Every year, the MPIEA invites artists in various disciplines to Frankfurt am Main as part of INHABIT. They each spend several months at the Institute during their separate residencies, initiating new work or developing existing projects in dialogue with MPIEA scientists and researchers. In collaboration with different arts institutions, their work is then presented to the wider public.



This year’s artists were selected by a nine-member jury made up of MPIEA associates and well-known figures from the arts and culture sector. They are:

Oliver Baurhenn (Artistic Director, CTM—Festival for Adventurous Music and Related Arts, Berlin), Julia F. Christensen (MPIEA, Department of Language and Literature), Christian Grüny (MPIEA, Department of Music), Lina Louisa Krämer (Curator, Kunsthalle Mainz), Mahret Ifeoma Kupka (Curator, Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main), Fredrik Ullén (MPIEA, Director of the Department of Cognitive Neuropsychology), Edward A. Vessel (MPIEA, Department of Neurosciences), Eike Walkenhorst (MPIEA, Curator of INHABIT), as well as Olivia Wen (MPIEA, Research Group Neural and Environmental Rhythms).

April–July 2022: Sajan Mani

Sajan Mani is an intersectional artist from southern India. His work gives voice to the issues of marginalized and oppressed peoples of India. In his performance practice, Mani confronts pain, shame, fear, and power via his own Black Dalit body. During his residency at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Mani will delve into the songs of caste slaves and explore how the sonic spaces created by these songs produce collective emotions and memories in Dalit communities.

September–December 2022: Pamela Breda

Pamela Breda is an Italian artist and filmmaker whose work explores representations and activities of political, social, and cultural powers, with a particular interest in virtual realities and artificial intelligences (AI). During her residency at the MPIEA, she will develop her research-based project “The Unexpected” through inquiry into the psychological and sociocultural bases of our understanding and perceptions of AI.

INHABIT in the Museum Angewandte Kunst

In cooperation with the Museum Angewandte Kunst, the MPIEA will present the works of last year’s INHABIT artists, completed during their residencies in 2021–2022, in the exhibition Contact ZonesMurat Adash, Céline Berger, Syowia Kyambi, which is planned for later this year.

Each of the works included has a different focus and reflects a unique approach to the scientific environment, hence the reference in the exhibition title. While in cultural studies the concept of a “contact zone” is used to describe social spaces in which cultures encounter each other, in the context of INHABIT it refers to the interaction between art and science. 

Contact ZonesMurat Adash, Céline Berger, Syowia Kyambi is tentatively scheduled to open in Frankfurt am Main’s Museum Angewandte Kunst on October 7, 2022, and to run through mid-January 2023.


Eike Walkenhorst