Many of us, including we at the Goethe-Institut, would like us to emerge from the pandemic with a different attitude to nature, one that values repair, protection, and care over exploitation and destruction and we are excited to launch a series of artworks and collaborations on this topic.
Following a competition in May by Discover South Kensington, the V&A, the Science Museum and the London Festival of Architecture, three different design teams will be invited to create innovative installations that will “un-pave” the way for introducing more biodiversity into the cultural district of South Kensington and support local eco-initiatives, such as the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea’s Bee Superhighway. The installations under the name #SouthKenGreenTrail will be installed from July 19th on and will welcome visitors to explore and enjoy them throughout the summer and autumn just until the Great Exhibition Rood Festival, which will take place from October 9th to 15th.
#rediscoversouthken #goinggreen #SouthKenGreenTrail
The winners of the "Three green interventions" are:
Urban Radicals started out in 2019 as a duo between architect Nasios Varnavas and designer Era Savvides with the ambition to form a network of collaborators, to solve problems across contexts and scales. The studio has grown through projects, competitions, workshops, stories, painting, parties, dinners, fishing trips, walks, gatherings and conversations. Nasios and Era believe that by working across disciplines and through the broad skillset and perspectives of its expansive team, the studio is able to generate rich, impactful projects, rooted in place and context. As a collective, Urban Radicals examines architecture from a variety of perspectives – economy, ecology, storytelling, community, and craft. More recently, Nasios and Era have been selected to design and co-curate the National Participation for Cyprus at the 17th Architecture Biennale in Venice.
For our #goinggreen initiative, Urban Radicals is collaborating with Adam Harris – landscape architect and project manager at Millimetre. Adam is passionate about native wildflower species and creating spaces that increase biodiversity in an urban setting and believes that by developing our connection to natural processes, we benefit both our cities and well-being. The team is also working with specialist wind energy consultants – Aerotrope, founded by Chris Hornzee-Jones.
Edinburgh-based artist Natalie Taylor has seeded a small public site in Weimar with wildflowers to symbolically re-wild it. Closely associated with Goethe and the Classical Period in German culture, the town in the East of Germany is also famous for its UNESCO World Heritage sites including a number of cultivated, historic parks. While the artwork is designed to raise awareness of biodiversity loss and our exploitative relationship to nature, it invites us to consider how we can reimagine and re-shape urban areas and possibly even parks to enter into a harmonious existence with the natural world. But Taylor’s insertion of a small area of wildflowers into the city context is not merely a symbolic act. The flowers will also provide a new habitat for insects in a location flanked by roads and normally covered exclusively by grass. With her artwork, Taylor not only reacts to the wider climate and ecological emergency we are facing, but also specifically to a 2017 report, the re-analysis of the so-called 2013 Krefeld study, that states a 75% loss in insect biomass over 27 years (1989 – 2016) in selected areas that were already protected nature areas. Millions of insect “foodbanks” are needed and we can create them in more places than we think. Taylor’s flower bed spells out the word REWILD and is a call for action.
The context for this project is the Kultursymposium Weimar 2021 organised by the Goethe-Institut in Germany (16 - 17 June 2021). The main theme of the 2021 edition of this biennial event is “Generations” and Natalie Taylor’s project has been conceived very much in the spirit of this thematic focus. The plan for the urban wild flower bed harks back to the experience and knowledge of past generations and suggests a template for how present and future generations can find a more harmonious co-existence with nature on a daily basis and also in our built environment.
Acknowledging the digital framework of this year's edition of the Kultursymposium Weimar, we have commissioned another work to respond to Natalie Taylor’s artwork Foodbank for Pollinators. Seeding for the Future in a digital format. Winning a competition among students of the Bauhaus-University Weimar, artist and filmmaker Ann-Kristin Jakubek has produced an artwork that will explore what Natalie Taylor seeks to stop - our growing detachment from nature.
While Taylor’s work consists of a physical site in Weimar and proposes a countermeasure to biodiversity loss in our natural environment, Jakubek uses a video format to explore how the digital has been shaping our relation to nature, its representation and experience by humans. Drawing on art forms and genres like performance, fashion, spatial sound, documentary, and music video she develops a narrative of human alienation from nature and absorption into the digital. In her work the natural world becomes increasingly mechanised, deformed and abstracted, emulating computer generated images produced through the employment of drone photography and machine learning in the form of generative adversarial network (GAN) technology.
Ann-Kristin Jakubek has worked with fellow students of diverse expertise to produce her video, which in a further rendition is ultimately intended for a fulldome /planetarium immersive projection. A Toothless Grin will be presented as a video artwork during the Kultursymposium Weimar (16 – 17 June) and thus find its congenial context in this two-day online event, which due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been conceived in a digital format.
moving image and virtual world building. Guided by her background in art direction, branding and film-making at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, Kristin experiments with new media forms of storytelling, centred around immersive, digital moving-image formats. At the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, she currently explores avenues to further enhance her visual storytelling by bringing both, virtual and sculptural forms of ‘worldbuilding’ together.