About

Hallerstein a cultural heritage, performing arts and media new technologies project, a two year project, 2008-2009

Hallerstein – biannual European-Chinese art-science project

KIBLA Association for Culture and Education is the first cultural institution in Slovenia to have become a coordinator of a European project within the Culture Programme, cooperation with third countries. For the Hallerstein project we have established connections with European partners from Austria (Slovenian cultural association Korotan), the Czech Republic (CIANT – International Center for Art and New Technologies), Portugal (Instituto Politecnico de Tomar and University of Minho - Confucius Institute) as well as Beijing Language and Culture University – Institute of Sinology studies, China.

The project was prepared within the call under Strand 1.3, Special Actions, Cultural Cooperation with and in third countries, EACEA 21/2007, priority countries for European participation having been India and China. The results of the Call for Cultural Cooperation with and in third countries have been published at the European Commission webpage since 11 February 2008.

The Hallerstein project shall extend over two years (1. 3. 2008 – 31. 12. 2009), therefore the art-science intermedia project shall be in progress until the end of 2009, comprising education and research, art workshops, cultural heritage, performances presenting various elements from the traditional – acting, puppets, shadow theatre, to contemporary – virtual reality, as well as postproduction.

Hallerstein is devoted to one of the major 18th century scientists. The project is an artistic interpretation of the life of the Baron Ferdinand Augustine von Hallerstein – in Chinese Liu Songling (*Ljubljana 1703 – + Beijing 1774), who spent 35 years as the court astronomer, missionary, “cultural ambassador” and mandarin (having the status of the Head of the Imperial Astronomical Bureau) in Beijing, China, between the years 1739 -1774. He was even the first demographer, as he precisely calculated the exact number of Chinese population of the time (198,214,553); he also participated in Chinese cartography. He was a Carniola man, a Jesuit from Mengeš, better known in scientific circles around Europe than in his homeland or in China, where only recently he has again attracted the attention of historians.

He gained fame in Europe with his astronomic scientific work; he also discovered a comet that was named after him. His scientific activity contributed greatly to the world immaterial heritage, he is known from London to Paris and Saint Petersburg, having been a member of Academies of Science in all the three cities, from Germany and Vienna where he mainly published his scientific disputes, to Rome and Lisbon, the city of his correspondence and of his personal friend – the Queen of Portugal. It was from Portugal that he travelled to India as a missionary, where he worked in Goa and Macau and then continued his travel to Beijing. In Budapest, translations of his letters were published already in the 18th century, while in Slovenia we have only recently began to discover the details of his life.

The former Beijing Astronomical observatory, now a museum, still hosts the armillary sphere with rotating rings, which was made under Hallerstein’s leadership and is considered the most prominent astronomical instrument.

The project integrates many Chinese and European institutions, international experts and artists. By overlapping historical documents and contemporary works of art, the possibility will be created to understand both previous as well as current Chinese and European conditions.

The Hallerstein project shall be put in the context of researching the relations between the traditional and contemporary, between science and art and as a dialogue between East and West. Individual art elements will be constructed at various workshops. Several symposiums shall gather scientists to shed light on Hallerstein’s scientific achievements. The project shall be implemented in all the participating countries – in major cities of Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Portugal and China.