Florian Mehnert - Florian Mehnert

Florian Mehnert (Juli 2014)

Florian Mehnert (born July 1, 1970 in Cologne ) is a German artist. He lives in Markgräflerland , Germany.


On the one hand, Florian Mehnert's work deals with the perception of nature and, in a broader sense, with spaces in nature (forests, fields, water) and their contradiction to the electronic world. His material pictures, although also containing painting, are nevertheless to be understood of a conceptual nature.

Current video works or room installations define a counterweight in dealing with the high-tech, rapidly accelerating environment.

On the other hand, Florian Mehnert develops conceptual projects that deal with social or current political issues. He works with an expanded concept of art that often focuses on the participation of the recipient.

In 1999, with the art project icelandproject, a first concept arose to set up a communication platform on the Internet : even before social networks were developed on the Internet . The main topic of this project was on the one hand dealing with the strong basic human need for communication , on the other hand also reflecting on one's own perception, also in terms of the temporal relative perception of reality and the past (self- observation ). The guiding principle was: "The iceland project enables the inner and outer experience of one's own perception."

Florian Mehnert's artistic exploration can be found in the polarities between nature, electronic progress and current social developments. Florian Mehnert gives lectures about his work at home and abroad.

Forest protocols

Florian Mehnert received media attention in autumn 2013 with his project forest protocols . [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

For days Mehnert had paths and clearings in forests bugged . Its microphones installed there listened to passers-by. Florian Mehnert published the "Forest Protocols" on his website. [7]

With this art project, Florian Mehnert wanted to draw attention to the danger of surveillance by secret services and the Internet. By publishing the logs, he makes the invisible threat tangible and encourages reflection on the surveillance. This was followed by a complaint to the public prosecutor's office [8] [9] , which reinforced the central message of the "forest protocols" and their topic of surveillance. The discussion or argument about the forest protocols and their problems continue and are not concluded due to the topicality of the topic. [10] [11]

Human tracks

Human tracks, video installation, 2014

In June 2014 Florian Mehnert published the video experiment “Menschentracks”. [12]

The installation consists of 42 video sequences from hacked third-party smartphones whose cameras and microphones were activated remotely. Menschentracks is intended to be a provocative artistic examination of the effects of mass surveillance and to question the meaning, the loss and the value of social privacy in the networked present. With its provocation, the installation works against repression, against the widespread attitude: I have nothing to hide. However, the work also reflects the question of the strength of one's own identity: How does the individual deal with mass surveillance, for example, can he partially evade himself through self-imposed restrictions? [13] [14] [15]

11 days

Kunstexperiment "11 Tage"

Was "11 days" an interactive , synchronized real-time - video project in March 2015: the visitors to a website [16] were using the keyboard or mouse click a paintball - gun , on a webcam was fixed, control and housed in an outlet rat, Live Stream observe and follow with the camera or pistol. [17]

The artist attracted national [18] and international attention ( BBC , The Times ) with the experiment . [19] [20] [21]

Refugee Stack

Stacked Refugees
Picture by the artist, 2015

The photo project Refugee Stack [22] (dt. Refugee stack ) from late summer 2015 to in refugee camps point often prevailing tightness. Refugees from local accommodation made themselves available for the photo series. [23] The aesthetics of the photos approached the viewer , only to irritate them with their depiction of “stacked” refugees: the irritation also reflects Europe's ambivalence with regard to the refugee issue. [24]

Freedom 2.0

Video projection of the FREIHEIT 2.0 tracking app
"Drugstore of freedom"
Freedom 2.0 guidance system

The large-scale social experiment FREEDOM 2.0 (mid-September to mid-October 2016 in Basel / Hüningen / Weil am Rhein , from the beginning of June 2018 for three weeks in Stuttgart ) [25] is a participatory art installation that is based on the influence of society on " Big Data "asks. Here sits FREEDOM 2.0 with the interactions between the digital and the analog world apart and will trigger it, "thought processes" as the analog in a digital world turns and to a source of raw materialswhich is made into money by the global Internet companies: [26] [27] "Information capitalism ".

The participatory art installation consists of four elements:

  • Der Self-Tracking-App Freiheit 2.0,
  • businesses renamed around the term "freedom",
  • a more than 20 km long guidance system through the streets as well
  • the BIG DATA colloquia .

At the event locations, participants could have their movement profiles recorded and tracked with the app, in the triangle of Germany , France and Switzerland (" Dreyeckland ") between Weil am Rhein in southern Baden , Hüningen ( Huningue ) and Basel and Riehen in the "Büro der Freiheit 2.0" in the municipal gallery Stapflehus in Weil as graphic live projections. The project there was carried out together with the local art associationas well as 21 local shops that were redesigned by Florian Mehnert in their respective designs ("freedom shops"). The temporary renaming of the business publicly raises the question of the value and importance of privacy and individual freedom - a public platform is created for discussion and debate about the meaning and necessary redefinition of privacy in its relation to BIG DATA. The temporary guidance system installed on the streets leads from the participating shops to the OFFICE OF FREEDOM 2.0 . The control system visualizes the invisible flow of data in the digital world and at the same time reflects the digital movement profiles of the tracking app.

The BIG DATA colloquia accompany the project with speakers from the fields of media theory , computer science , data protection , economics and philosophy in the form of lectures and discussions. FREEDOM 2.0 is a large-scale participatory art installation in public space in which the recipients take on an elementary, integrative element. [28] [29] [30] [31]

Social Distance Stacks

In autumn 2020, Mehnert launched another art campaign in connection with the corona pandemic and the " Social Distancing " required as a precaution , the photo series " Social Distance Stacks " (meaning "distance masses"): members of different groups of people in large, transparent, bubble-like, Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) balls arranged by Mehnert . [32]

At the start, he photographed the State Commissioner for Data Protection Baden-Wuerttemberg with employees in some bubbles in the light of visualized graphically Internet traces, which he with a tracking - software had created. [33]

This was followed by recordings with musicians from the Stuttgart Philharmonic , who, in their concert clothes and their instruments, stood or sat in the transparent PVC spheres. Young people, swimming pool visitors or actors should also be presented in this way, and the loneliness of older people during the pandemic should also be discussed. [34]


For the first episode of the 3sat TV series Cultural Landscapes , the internationally known writer and columnist Wladimir Kaminer (“ Russendisko ”) visited Florian Mehnert among others as a “traveling culture seeker”. [35]




  • Norbert Hahn Collection , Freiburg


Individual evidence

  1. sueddeutsche.de , November 13, 2013, Ruth Schneeberger: Reaction to NSA scandal, artists bugged the forest
  2. ^ Arte Germany, France, 2013, Nathalie Daiber, videos.arte.tv
  3. deutschlandfunk.de , November 18, 2013, Florian Mehnert in the Corso conversation: The bugged forest
  4. DIE WELT , November 15, 2013, Michael Pilz, welt.de: There are also bugs in the forest
  5. ^ SWR , Landesschau aktuell , Michael Hertle, swr.de: Verwanzter Wald
  6. NDR -Fernsehen, Kulturjournal , December 2, 2013, Lennart Herberhold, ndr.de: Art against growing surveillance
  7. waldprotokolle.florianmehnert.de
  8. sueddeutsche.de , December 6, 2013, Ruth Schneeberger: Forest bugged, advertisement against NSA protest artists
  9. badische-zeitung.de , December 20, 2013, Sina Gesell: Artist bugged the Black Forest and is displayed
  10. Radio SRF 2 Kultur , Kultur Kompakt , January 10, 2014, Sarah Herwig, srf.ch: Florian Mehnert: Art campaign against the wiretapping scandal ( Memento of the original from January 16, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.srf.ch
  11. sueddeutsche.de , December 27, 2013, Ruth Schneeberger: [1] , investigations stopped, artist is allowed to bug the forest
  12. menschentracks.florianmehnert.de
  13. Badische-zeitung.de , October 31, 2014, Dorothee Philipp: Under constant observation
  14. SWR2 , Kultur , June 30, 2014, Michael Hertle: Your smartphone films you ( Memento of the original from July 14, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.ardmediathek.de
  15. arte Germany, France, June 27, 2014, Méline Freda, info.arte.tv: ARTE Journal
  16. 11tage.florianmehnert.de
  17. Badische-zeitung.de , March 16, 2015, Daniel Laufer: Does the laboratory rat die?
  18. sueddeutsche.de , March 13, 2015, Simon Hurtz: "I expect a massacre"
  19. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/europe/article4381300.ece
  20. Badische-zeitung.de, March 17, 2015, Alexander Huber: Mehnert's action causes outrage
  21. http://www.srf.ch/sendung/kultur-kompakt/ratte-im-fokus-das-umstrittene-kunstprojekt-von-florian-mehnert
  22. refugeestack.florianmehnert.de (December 4, 2015)
  23. badische-zeitung.de , September 11, 2015 ,: Artist Florian Mehnert stacks refugees for a photo project (December 4, 2015)
  24. SWR television , Kunscht! , September 24, 2015: Florian Mehnert's art project "Refugee Stack" (December 7, 2015)
  25. freiheit.florianmehnert.de
  26. Guizhou in a digital frenzy - big data is China's new gold . In: Deutschlandfunk . ( deutschlandfunk.de [accessed on November 1, 2018]).
  27. Consumer Scoring - "Many don't know they are being rated all the time" . In: Deutschlandfunk . ( deutschlandfunk.de [accessed on November 1, 2018]).
  28. badische-zeitung.de , June 2, 2016, Dorothee Philipp: Triggering thought processes (June 2, 2016)
  29. badische-zeitung.de, September 14, 2016, Ulrich Senf: Why do colorful lines run through Weil am Rhein? (September 16, 2016)
  30. badische-zeitung.de, September 16, 2016, Ulrich Senf: Where individual action becomes collective art (September 16, 2016)
  31. Deutschlandfunk , September 13, 2016, Florian Mehnert in a conversation with Sigrid Fischer on the Corso: http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/aktionskunst-zu-big-data-freiheit-2-0-zum-mitmachen.807.de. html? dram: article_id = 365762
  32. FLORIAN MEHNERT. Retrieved November 13, 2020 .
  33. SWR2, SWR2: Data protection as performance: Florian Mehnert makes art with tracking data. Retrieved November 13, 2020 .
  34. ^ Art: Art action: musicians play in transparent balls. In: The time . November 12, 2020 .
  35. badische-zeitung.de , August 22, 2015, Heidi Ossenberg: TV series "Kulturlandschaften": Kaminer starts in South Baden (last accessed: December 4, 2015)