The Kultursymposium Weimar is a festival for new networks and ideas. Every two years, the Goethe-Institut invites over five hundred people from all over the world to come together in Weimar to attend the event. Interdisciplinary and diverse, the Kultursymposium Weimar reflects the richness and complexity of global discourses and proposes new ideas for international Seite 4 cultural exchange. Every edition of the festival format treats a new topic: In 2016 it was “The Sharing Game”, in 2019 “Recalculating the Route” on the challenges of our ever more complex world and in 2021 “Generations”.
Natalie Taylor: Foodbank for Pollinators. Seeding for the Future
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.