The Hambach Forest and the Price of our Energy Supply

On April 21, 2023 the exhibition "The Hambach Forest and the Price of Our Energy Supply. Photographs by Lucas Castel, Daniel Chatard, David Klammer, Sophie Reuter" opened at the Museum of Garden Art at Benrath Palace. It has been extended until December 3, 2023.

The confrontations around the Hambach Forest in 2018 were of striking symbolism. Photographers pointedly portrayed the conflict and its underlying contradictions: on the one hand, squatters and demonstrators living in tree houses with the intention of saving the forest; on the other, police forces securing the legally regulated mining of lignite by RWE. This confrontation was complemented by images of the unconditional destruction of nature and the gigantic infrastructures of fossil energy production in devastated landscapes. In the end, the protest prevailed - the destruction of the forest was averted and the coal phase-out in North Rhine-Westphalia has now been fixed until 2030. In 2021, the Cologne Administrative Court ruled that the police's clearing of the forest was unlawful.

Hambach Castle, which gives its name to the forest near Jülich, had been used since the 17th century by the Palatine electors - the builders of Benrath Palace. Their electoral pleasure and hunting palaces were spread throughout the country - Hambach in the south, Benrath near the Düsseldorf residence, and Bensberg Palace in the Bergisches Land. They were used for summer stays, especially for hunting.

The exhibition at the Museum of Garden Art recapitulates the events, presents four photographic positions, and aims to inspire a new reflection on the conflict situation from hindsight and in the midst of a current crisis of energy supply and climate change.