This summer of 2023, passers-by will find a structure stretched over a city tree that reflects the building and living habits of insects. The Insect Embassy challenges us humans to contemplate the constructive or destructive relationships each of us has with insects. It is an appeal to resume “diplomatic relations” between humans and insects.
The art installation towers high above the viewers and is situated in a spot where there is usually no space for insects: the highly sealed inner city area. At Frankfurt’s Domplatz, it breaks through this space which is completely claimed by people. Thus, right In the middle of the city, a place is created for residents and visitors to meet and reflect, which at the same time opens up new perspectives on the world of insects and the necessity of coexistence.
The installation is a reference to the invisible world of insects and the fact that the current urban way of life does not grant them any space.
In the financial metropolis of Frankfurt, a signal is thus sent out in an artistic way to emphasize the value of insect diversity as well asbiodiversity in general.
Why is there a need for a “message” for insects?
Studies show that it is becoming increasingly rare for people to be able to experience a diverse insect world in the city. As a result, the willingness to contribute to the protection of insect diversity is also dwindling among the urban population. What’s more, the way people live in the city leads to the expulsion, exclusion and combat of insects.
Yet it is clear: insects do incredible things within our ecosystems and our comfortable way of life depends on them. Increasingly, the question arises: What are we actually giving back to insects?
The Insect Embassy serves as an appeal for us to resume “diplomatic relations” with insects. The possibility of diplomatic relations with non-human beings also raises the question of fair recognition by humans of the value and needs of insects. The Insect Embassy aims to demonstrate that a shift in thinking is necessary for co-existence with insects.
Importantly in the financial metropolis of Frankfurt, this sends a signal for the value of insect diversity as well as biodiversity in general.
The Embassy as a cooperation project: Material design meets science
The artistic installation is the result of a collaboration between ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research and IMD – Institut für Materialdesign an der Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) Offenbach). As part of a seminar at the IMD, the Insect Embassy was developed and put into action in the winter semester of 2022/23 and summer semester of 2023.
As Markus Holzbach, professor of material design at the HfG and head of the IMD explains, the Insect Embassy was designed specifically for this space in the plane tree at the cathedral:
“For this purpose, the plane tree was digitally captured. The Insect Embassy was literally interwoven with the digital 3D model of the tree. The lightweight construction consists of thousands of plywood rods and hundreds of metal connectors. All components differ and have their specific place in the structure. At the same time, each component assumes its role in the overall structure of the Insect Embassy.”
The appearance of the installation is reminiscent of a swarm of bees in a tree or the nests of weaver birds. The amount of work involved in the conception, from the development of models up to the final Insect Embassy can be easily guessed from the complex structure with all its countless individual parts. An effect that is quite desirable, as Markus Holzbach explains:
“The Insect Embassy is intended to show the fascination of the insect world and thus promote the necessary dialogue within the shared habitat of the city. By linking science, design and art, we want to point out the existence of insects in urban spaces and at the same time ask the question of how we ourselves build and live. How can the city function as a shared habitat for humans and insects? ”
Team Insect Embassy
Alexander Becker, Marius Perl, Tobias Doch, Kamola Khudayberdieva, Markus Löffelholz, Antoine Ochs, Julia Schütze, David Wellen, Tobias Walter, Florim Fteja, Ani Jishkariani.
Dipl. Des. Valentin Brück, Dr. Ziyu Zhou, M. Sc. Ludwig Ebert, Sebastian Kujas, Wolfgang Heide
Prof. Dr. Markus Holzbach
Dr. Florian Dirk Schneider
Special thanks go to the team at the Parks Department of the City of Frankfurt, Mr. Pfeiffer, Mr. Leissner and Mr. zur Linde, for providing the site and supporting the realization. We would also like to thank “Tobi” and “Jörg” for their great help in setting up the installation with a lift truck and Mr. Rohrbach and Mr. Staub for providing the planting substrate for the newly created flower bed. Of course we would be very happy if the flower bed at the plane tree at the Domplatz continued to be maintained setting a sign for sustainability and biodiversity. Thanks also go to Stefan Weber and Nathalie Hertrich from the Ebener company.A big thank you to the colleagues of the SLInBio project and the team at ISOE who were involved in press relations and the preparation of the event: Verena Rossow, Nicola Schuldt-Baumgart, Melanie Neugart, Iris Dresler, Harry Kleespies, Danijela Milosevic, Lotte Bergmann, as well as to SLInBio-project manager Marion Mehring
We would like to thank the experts from research and science communication for their advice during the development process: Hilke Steinecke and Patricia Germandi from the Palmengarten, Daniela Warzecha and Max Bugert from Senckenberg and Viktor Hartung from the LWL-Museum für Naturkunde in Münster.
Insect Embassy – a diplomatic representation for insects in the city
Installation of ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research and IMD – Institut für Materialdesign an der Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) Offenbach
The installation can be seen from 10.07. until the end of September.
Location: Platane am Domplatz, Markt 1, Frankfurt am Main
The Insect Embassy is a cooperation of ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research and IMD – Institut für Materialdesign an der Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) Offenbach. It was created as part of the research project “SLInBio – Urban Lifestyles and the valorization of Biodiversity”, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the BMBF Research Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity (FEdA).
Prof. Dr. Markus Holzbach
IMD – Institute for Material Design
University of Art HfG Offenbach
63065 Offenbach am Main