Beyond the Pleasure Garden was a series of ten interactive performances at Spreepark (an abandoned and overgrown former amusement park), where audiences participated in a guided foraging and tasting tour that explored plant-people relationships. The project was a collaboration between myself and Prinzessinnengärten – a multipurpose urban Commons space and community garden represented by foraging guides Alexis Goertz – Bacteria Barista and fermentation specialist, Jonathan Hamnett – professional forager of and Matthius Wilkens – botanist and head gardener of Prinzessinnengärten.
Over summer and autumn I prepared food or drink from leaf, flower, stem, root or seed of seasonal edible plants (detailed above) growing wild in the park. Throughout four geometric themed installation spaces audiences shared a progressive four-course ethnobotanical meal while circumnavigating the park in ninety minutes. Anecdotes about foraging, agriculture or fermentation processes for each plant from the tour guides complemented anecdotes about cuisine, medicine, mythology, religion or ritual practices from me. In this way, the park was used as a type of urban laboratory to present our interconnectedness to food systems and reveal intrinsic links between micro and macro environments of the human biome and the biodiverse ecological systems we are part of.
This work was motivated by The Global Risks Report and inspired by ecological philosopher Timothy Morton’s book Dark Ecology; suggesting to me that agriculture can be seen as a type of algorithm for Modernity that pushes us away – while continuing to distract and further alienate us – from nature through consumerism.
‘In a world of growing environmental strains our increasingly complex food system is becoming more vulnerable to sudden supply shocks… disruptors such as extreme weather, political instability or crop diseases… (The Global Risks Report – Future Shocks, 2018).
“The holism in which the whole is greater than sum of its parts depends on some (false) concept of smooth, homogenous universality or space or infinity. It depends, in short, on a Euclidian anthropocentric geometry. Since they do not fit into the quaint category of space, what Hyperobjects [like cities and agriculture] reveal to us humans is that the whole is always weirdly less than the sum of its parts.” (Morton, Timothy. Dark Ecology: For A Future of Co-existence, 2016)
Further information on each plant can be found with my website archive The Conceptual Cookbook.
photos by Frank Sperling and Andrew Rewald. Berlin, 2018
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, it’s art funding and advisory body.