Bjerknessenterets mål er å forstå klima
til nytte for samfunnet.

The parallel laboratory

For seven weeks the artist Katrin von Lehmann has visited the GFI and the Bjerknes Centre.


Photo caption (photo from today): 
On Thursday Katrin von Lehmann invites to an exhibition in her small Bergen studio in Havnelageret.. – I have enjoyed my stay here, and escpecially appreciated the office at GFI, and the open and unconventional atmosphere. The institute seems to be like a big mosaic consisting of different separate parts, von Lehmann says.
 Photo: Gudrun Sylte

For seven weeks Katrin von Lehmann has been looking, observing and trying to understand the content of the different research fields at the GFI. She has walked the corridors, had lunch in the cantina, and talked to many of the researchers about their specific working field.  Many conversations have started by chance in the coffee room, in the corridor or in the cantina.

”For me it was new and surprising to hear about the interdependency between the ocean and the atmosphere. And I like the description: the ocean has a bigger memory than the atmosphere. I would like to develop a work on this topic,” she says.

This week her visit comes to an end, and on Thursday evening she invites to an exhibiton in her studio in the container harbour at Dokkeskjærskaien. If you would like to take the trip, remember to bring your passport to enter the harbour!

Here is a link to Bergen Atelier Group and how to find it.

You are welcome Thursday 24. April at 18:00
Please be on time at the harbour entrance, as you will be guided to the studio!


Blackboard draw. The lows and the highs in the atmosphere are constantly changing. The wet swamp on the drawings on the blackboard, the water drying, the perforation of the photo. It is all a prosess of removing and changing the image. Photo: Gudrun Sylte

”One thing I am rather surprised of, is the fact that so many researchers still use the blackboard regularly. When they were explaining their work to me, they spontanously drew on the blackboard”, Katrin von Lehmann says.

She asked to take photos of the blackboards, used a wet swamp to remove parts of the drawings and again recorded the drying prosess with her camera. Back in her atelier she has punched holes in the photos, in various sizes, in shifting rythms.

For some years von Lehmann has been working on this prosess of removing parts in shifting layers. While in Bergen, she has finished two parts of a new series she calls View leaving its object. The series is following up the project Looking at Diversity at the Max Planck Institute in Germany last year.

Working with paper and punching out holes, she has made stencils. And again folding them makes more forms. Folding and drawing over and over again with different colours and strenghts, until the stencil got too soft and useless.

”Working with the stencils I have been doing the same movements over and over again, the drawings are repeated but becomes variations. The stencil is changing, and is finally teared apart. I am following some rules until the rules is not working any more, and I have to do something else. In this way the material is talking”, she says.  

Combining complex systems
Katrin von Lehmann has for many years worked with topics from science, dating back to 2009 when she was visiting the Weather Mueseum in Lindenberg near Berlin. The result was a folded drawing, made from a data set from cloud observations from every half hour every day in March 2010. The data set was transformed into her own drawing and folding system. The lines at the edge are making a new image.

”I am interested in what is behind, what is not seen”, she says.

 Detail. Augenbeobachtung 2-2, Drawing, object, 78 × 205 × 6 cm, 2011

When art meets science, she sees her work as a parallell laboratory, and explains:

”I think that the scientist as the artist want to understand the complex system of life and express their knowledge and feelings in their own respective language. The role of the model as an intermediate between science/art and life is important for that. The scientist builds models, for example the model of a molecule, in order to explain certain aspects of life. The model reduces the complexity of life and generates a certain way of interpreting life. The art work has a similar role. It acts an intermediate that interprets the complexity of life. In my opinion scientists wants to produce knowledge lasting long time. But the work of the artists gives inspiration searching for knowledge.”

When Katrin von Lehman now is leaving Bergen, she is going home to Berlin. But not for long. In May and June she is heading to the University of Azores. Her plan is to follow the topic she has got a taste of at the GFI – the interdependency between the atmosphere and the ocean.

Examples of work:








Augenbeobachtung 2-2, Juli 2010


Detail. Drawing, object, 78 x 205 x 6 cm, 2011
© Katrin von Lehmann / Photo: © Bernd Hiepe

The question of what makes things visible was pivotal when I did a residency in 2009 at the Weather Museum Lindenberg near Berlin. During a guided tour of the observatory of Lindenberg I was fascinated by the fact that until  today mankind has not discovered an adequate instrument to classify clouds.

This means that the formations of clouds are so diverse that no instrument can translate the permanent movement of clouds into data. The practice of cloud observation at the observartories around the world consists of a person looking at the sky and writing down his observations in Latin words in a diary of clouds.

In my work ‘Augenbeobachtung’ I looked at the data of cloud observation (as if would be the sky) –  during reading the Latin words I try to find out what does these words say to me –  and translated the associations spontaneously into drawing.


Ny Alesund 2 - 4

Spitzbergen, drawing, object, 2011, each 90,5 x 21 x 2 cm

© Katrin von Lehmann / Photo: © Bernd Hiepe

For the work ‘Ny Ålesund’ I obtained weather data form a scientist working at Spitsbergen and translated these numerical values of temperature into drawings. 



Looking at diversity, series 1,2,3

Divers technique and sizes
© Katrin von Lehmann / Photo: © Bernd Hiepe

In 2012-2013 I was  an Artist in Residence in Max Planck for History of Science in Berlin.
The Research Group Twentieth Century Histories of Knowledge about Human Variation invited me to work with this topic.

See more:


For more information on her work, please visit her website: