Laboratory Berlin is pleased to announce the opening of the exhibition
Wunschgarten: Wild Urban Offshoots by the artists Alex
Toland and Myriel Milicevic - the second exhibition in our ongoing
series Artists in Dialog.
exhibition in Artists in Dialog takes the form of a discourse
between two artists, whose work has a common point of contact (e.g.
aesthetics, theme or process). Alex Toland and Myriel Milicevic
both work on the border between art and life and environmental sciences.
Toland considers the project 'habitat hacking' and Milicevic describes
the project as 'reconstructing cross-species life worlds'. Together
they have chosen the immediate area around Art Laboratory Berlin
(the Soldiner Kiez) as a place to investigate interactions between
the local human population and urban flora and fauna. The exhibition
space will function as a laboratory for mapping, sketching, modelling
and prototyping. Wunschgarten is a series of dialogues: between
the artists and the local community, between city dwellers and nature,
between urban planning and urban wilderness.
cities creep further into wild landscapes, the wild moves into cities.
Urban habitats are places where plants and animals take up residence
alongside people. Too often though, space for nature is sealed off
by concrete constructions, resulting in a marked divide between
the space occupied by humans and the rest of the biotic community.
The Wunschgarten is an exploration of the city's wild features
and creatures, and a vision of utopian measures that reach beyond
existing mitigation schemes and municipal green-space planning.
The city becomes a garden of unexpected edible opportunities and
ideas to incubate and explode.
The first offshoots of the Wunschgarten are found poking
out of sidewalks and courtyards in Berlin's Soldiner Kiez, where
the artists have redrawn the natural and urban landscape as a map
that connects the area's human, animal, and plant populations. A
common ground for interspecies exchange is found along the Panke
and its lush riverbanks that spill out into the surrounding neighbourhood.
and Milicevic start their investigation by mapping the various food
sources available in the neighbourhood: 1. Local food sources (such
as gardens that are planted by the human population, but also the
green areas which provide a source of nourishment for the local
fauna); 2. Travelled foods (all things brought in and sold at such
places as restaurants, cafes, kiosks and markets). They then go
on to explore future options for common production, co-production
and co-habitation between human urban dwellers and local fauna.
Typical planning concepts of "life world oriented space"
and "potential natural vegetation" are trumped with visions
of potential natural inhabitants, considering for example, the re-introduction
of former megafauna such as the European bison.
might migrating bison find the delicious clover hiding between the
bricks and pavement? And how will the ants cross the Osloer Strasse
to carry the seeds of the healing Calendine? After mapping existing
food sources, the artists propagate some new offshoots, coming up
with creative measures to address problems of fragmentation and
isolation of urban green space and its myriad inhabitants. Elevating
buildings on tree stilts creates grazing space for large mammals.
"Formicidae funiculars", or cable cars for non-winged
insects, run alongside the tramways, bringing ants and their kin
to new Calendine patches. Stony houses allow mountain goats to climb
upon them and graze on rooftop farms
The list of mitigation
measures sprouts and grows.
artists reflect in their project possible tools that might help
people to interact and communicate with animals and plant life in
the neighbourhood: A telescope for recognizing local birds, a seed
apron to help plants disperse, a bird house backpack for hatching
migrating birds... Coinciding with the early harvest season of late
summer, such tools as well as other measures will be developed in
the streets and courtyards of the Soldiner Kiez and in a series
of workshops and neighborhood walks based out of the offshoot lab
(Art Laboratory Berlin).
Finally the artists encourage local inhabitants (and other visitors)
to take part in the project. From the gallery space the participants
can depart on a series of walks, contribute their own ideas and
sketches, and in turn use the Wunschgarten as a springboard
for further investigations or offshoots such as urban gardening
projects, recordings of urban fauna, or evolutionary architecture
and experiments in wild urban societies.
explore these possibilities in a more concentrated setting, there
will be a workshop on September 4 led by the artists to discuss
and investigate, create and formulate, construct and co-inhabit
the Wunschgarten and its wild urban offshoots.
Toland is a visual artist and environmental researcher based
in Berlin. In 2009 she presented her performance and interactive
urban exploration Personal Dispersal Mechanisms at Art Laboratory
Alex has an MFA from the Dutch Art Institute (DAI) and Dipl. Ing.
in landscape architecture and environmental planning from the TU
Berlin. She is currently a graduate research fellow in the Graduate
Research Program "Perspectives on Urban Ecology."
Milicevic is a visual artist, researcher and interaction designer
based in Berlin. With her Neighbourhood Satellites she explores
the hidden connections between people and their natural, social,
and technical environments. She received her MA from the Interaction
Design Institute Ivrea, Italy and her diploma in Graphic Design
from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam.