Does nature exist? And if so, where? The “Park an der Ilm” in Weimar is a growing landmark that is protected as cultural heritage by the UNESCO. It was designed as a „landscape garden“ by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Duke Carl August von Sachsen-Weimar- Eisenach at the end of the 18th century (Müller-Wolff, 2007). Several sites in the park were created with the intention to imitate phenomena and aesthetics of nature. Still, the well-kept lawn is rhizomatically connecting the locations as the „Leutra Springs“ or the „Rock Steps“ creating an assemblage named a „park“. Yet, is this growing monument nature? The project „The Sorrows of Nature“ practically questions the conceptual division of nature and culture with regard to the socio political, ecological and ecopsychological consequences it brings along. Based on an artistic analysis of the sites, performative interventions develop an ecofeminist, collectivist counter narrative that interconnect human- and nonhuman, living and non-living agents in a multiplicity.
Book with the interview out of paper, stone and stone paper
A tool: Frottage gloves with graphite “nails“
Expense calculation for the flooding of the cave
Writing with beer ink
Pen with black beer cartridge
Dear N,
Once again I thought I saw you–in the cave under the park. But maybe I was wrong. Was I?
Perhaps all humans, among other animals, have a fascination for caves. Even though we now use them only sporadically for dwelling and the doctrine of light dominates our homes as well as our minds. But the charm of the cave is still inescapable: do these anti-phallic monuments remind us subconsciously of the shelter of the womb?
But unfortunately, all my expectations were shattered when I heard that this „cave“ under the park is not „nature“ and therefore not a „cave“ at all. The cave under the park is a tunnel. The-if I may-crazy project of a duke in his midlife crisis. Carl August let more than 2000 cubic meters of stone and earth be excavated in order to build a black beer depot including a brewery underground. At least that was the starting point. And yes, we know how it usually goes with such large-scale projects of politicians: At some point, the realization is no longer worth it. My romantic idea of the cave became the insane project of an aristocrat.
And yet I had the feeling that you were also down there. The remains of a time of your sole reign were made visible by human excavation. It is like traveling back in time to the beginning of the Anthropocene that coexists there with other geochronological epochs. Goethe explored it together with his son, and found fossilized creatures of a lake that is petrified today. I likewise found fossils there, more or less, along with plastic gloves and bottles that will survive longer in the gravel than their „non-artificial“ equivalents.
As beautiful as it is down there, it is also terrifying that all of this was excavated by human hands-and not, of course, by whoever wanted to store their black beer down there so much, but by those who needed the pay that they got for the hard work to survive. Later, when the Park Cave was to be used as a bomb shelter, it was not even a question of wages, as prisoners of war had to wall up the front parts of the cave. It is believed that inmates from the concentration camp in Buchenwald were also forced to do this work. It cannot be denied that the Nazis‘ race ideologies used „nature“ as an argument for their atrocities. And also the inhuman capitalism instrumentalizes your modes of operation. Of course, this tarnishes my sympathies for you and I wonder if there is any point in searching for you any further at all. Or are you just being deliberately misunderstood?
When I indulge in the idea of naturalness, I keep wondering what starting point we need to go back to. Perhaps confusion is speaking from me, but if the park cave actually exists only because of the black beer and it was once a lake as far as we can trace it, is it our duty to you to flood the cave? With black beer, of course. Perhaps such an attraction would even be a lucrative business? Here is a small calculation:
At a filling height of about 218m above sea level, the volume to be filled with Schwarzbier amounts to 2,284.87m3. Since a bottle holds only half a liter, 4,569,740 bottles of Schwarzbier are needed. The crates each contain 20 bottles. 4,569,740 divided by 20 gives 228,487 crates. The crate price averages €14.99 plus a €3.10 deposit. The total cost of 228,487 crates is therefore 4,133,329.83€. In total, the cost items 4,133,329.83€ (Schwarzbier) + 28,809 € (rental costs truck) + 16,966.92 € (fuel costs truck) + 17,055 € (salary truck driver)+ 10,260 € (rental costs forklift truck) + 17. 100 € (salary forklift truck driver) + 2686,80 € (electricity costs forklift truck) + 1.193.844,575 € (costs for beer dispensers) a total amount of 5.420.052,125 € (minus 708.309,7 € deposit).*
I am looking forward to your answer.
*Salaries calculated with minimum wage and average wages in Thuringia.
The frozen linen
Schmelzpunkt: Hand-embroidered fabric
Dear N.,
are you alright?
I am shocked how brutally your appearance has been invaded in the last weeks. A few days before, I saw the long grass on your meadows growing the way it wants. And what has happened in this short time that I have not been in the park? Suddenly all the meadows are radically shaved short. The whole park is now only one lawn! The idea of merciless lawn mowers beheading the tender little plants is unbearable to me. Or is it just like a new haircut for you after all?
I must admit, some areas in the park are permanently trimmed short so that children, drunken younger and older people (and that with centuries of tradition) can enjoy themselves on you free of bugs and itching. But is it really the case that we need to free the other surfaces from the disturbing burden of long grass, like you free sheep from their heavy load of wool? And on the subject of sheep: If it‘s the sheep and cows that the grass is supposed to feed, why don‘t they just stay in the meadows in the park? Because they would trample the ground cellulite-like uneven? I understand that the grass becomes hay and thus durable for the winter, but unfortunately in this world not all cows live on the meadow as long as there is grass, but also in the stable to milk them more easily and therefore thea eat hay in summer. And what happens to the animals that are allowed to eat the hay? Are they only allowed to do that so that we can do the same with them in the end? Can one, as a vegan, go to the Ilmpark with a good conscience?
Whatever happens to the hay in the Ilmpark, the idea of cutting grass, pressing it into bales and then selling it, no longer has much to do with the protection of biotopes. And even if there are reasons in terms of their protection, why do we think we can patronize them?
Most certainly these reasons are somehow of aesthetic nature, because as a world cultural heritage (and not natural heritage) one has to present oneself in a cultivated way. And the etiquette of a German garden includes the neatly kept short, lush green lawn that requires constant watering in the summer. The German garden (and, of course, the English garden) regards the overly long grass with the same unease as a woman‘s unshaved legs and armpits. The only hair that belongs to a „cultivated“ appearance is the hair on the head–naturally, different rules apply to men.
And when mowing the lawn becomes shaving, what an absurd intimacy suddenly reigns between the mower and the lawn? How can I say it...I can‘t deny the strange erotic charge of lawn mowing lately!
Greetings to the Flora von Weimar!
Flora‘s pants