Our increased attention to nature became a much discussed topic during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the lockdowns we left nature more in peace and had more time to observe whatever it was doing in our surroundings. The origin of the virus also made us more aware of how far we humans have intruded into Nature’s realm. The knowledge about our negative impact on the climate and on eco systems, of course, far predates the pandemic. COP26, the climate summit in Glasgow in November this year has been planned for a long time and we know that is has to bring about decisive changes.
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.
#SouthKenGreenTrail Installations from July 23rd on: South Kensington Green Trail @EXRD
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 are installed from July 23rd 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:
#Windflower Intervention @EXRD: Urban Radicals with Adam Harris
Windflower outside the Goethe-Institut London by Urban Radicals with Adam Harris features a modified and re-purposed decommissioned wind turbine blade bringing the scale and surprising beauty of this mega-structure into the city centre. This is planted with wildflowers to attract pollinators while allowing visitors to walk through, sit on or enjoy it.
Statements by Urban Radicals:
"A mysterious forest creature, an opaque cloud expanding the gardens presence into the public realm."
“An absolutely wonderful project implemented in the area, which aims to bring together a beautiful sculpture - architecture, engineering, landscape, people under the theme of care. Carefully rethinking and redesigning possibilities for our future green infrastructure and our cities.”
"Raising awareness and ultimately offering a solution for the afterlife of a wind turbine the installation will modify and re-purpose the decommissioned blade and reconfigure it as a “stepping stone”, an interactive sculpture. Planted with herbs and vegetation the installation will attract biodiversity and bees whilst allowing the visitor to walk through, sit on and enjoy."
"With COP26 on the horizon and almost two centuries down the line since the Great Exhibition, the 2050 global climate action foresees a clean, lean and efficient future in the way we build our cities and our environments. Not only do we need to follow new protocols for putting new infrastructures and homes up, but we need to radically rethink how to re-use our buildings and upcycle components."
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 #SouthKenGreenTrail #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 first context for this project was 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 was “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. The second setting for the "Rewild" project will be Prince's Gardens in SW7 2PH, London from July 23rd on.
Natalie Taylor is an artist, designer, gardener, activist and mother using tools of visual communication to challenge our harmful relationship to plants and by extension all of nature. Using research based methods and responding to many scientific reports in recent years she has addressed ecological subjects in a visually arresting and sometimes light-hearted way. Recently included in Royal Scottish Academy and Palace of Holyrood House Visitor Centre exhibitions, she has also been part of award winning teams for creative urban regeneration projects in Edinburgh.
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 was presented as a video artwork during the Kultursymposium Weimar (16 – 17 June 2021) and thus found its congenial context in this two-day online event, which due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been conceived in a digital format. The short film is still available on Youtube.
Ann-Kristin Jakubek is a young, award-winning media artist and film director, specialising in cinematic
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.