the other garden
An Ongoing Artistic Research Project
UdK Berlin, Germany
I started teaching at Berlin University of Arts exactly five years ago. Being the only non-European faculty member in my department has been challenging. Without it being recogizned that I didn’t speak or understand any German, I had to sit down in a lot of faculty meetings, have been assigned to committees and been through German bureaucracy.
I felt silent. I felt like a plant at most times.
In a few years, I did learn German and started to articulate myself. Still, the lack of diversity and social space in our department has been something I wanted to change.
I had the idea to establish a garden in our building’s backyard almost a year ago. This space have been a non-functional barren ground since I came here. I started to pitch the idea by myself. Then one student signed up in my project. Then we became 10! And together with the students, we fought the brick walls of bureaucracy and managed to get permissons. In one year, we were able to transform this deserted area to a garden, where we started growing wild plant species that are not native in this geography. Our focus is to create a bio-diverse environment within our department by not only growing wild and immigrant plants, but also talk about topics of inclusivity and diversity within our theoretical framework.
We call it “The Other Garden”. It has been a transformative, social and ecological
research, where we gather together with students, discuss topics of ecology and
interconnectedness. We are still learning, changing and adapting. It is a collaborative and growing project and we are planning to grow with it this semester. @the.other.garden.
the other garden is a collaborative artistic research project I started with a group of students from the UdK that brings together discussions about ecology, inclusivity, diversity and care.
the other garden is a green space, where we grow certain wild plants (neophytes) throughout the year, as well as an intellectual place, in which we hold regular lecture series on the topics intersecting diversity and ecology.
What do we grow in the other garden?
Neophyte = plant species (weeds) that is not native to a geographical region and was introduced through human influence.
Our 'other' plants are neophytes, meaning they are not native to Germany, but have made their way from other geographies to Germany and stayed.
Weeds play an important role in nature and farming that is often being overlooked. So far we have eight different weeds in our garden, which are critically crucial for providing biodiversity.
the other garden aims to promote and make visible works especially by and for those who are underrepresented, especially women, LQBTQIA+ community, people of color and early career individuals.
the other garden runs as a social and collaborative space with interested student participants, groups and classrooms.
How can we bring together issues around environmental crisis and ecology together with issues around diversity and inclusivity?
How can we create a living and social research space within the UdK that gives voice to those who are often silenced and underrepresented?
How can we together conduct an inclusive research that practices ‘caring for’ and ‘caring about’ beyond the gender-biased, patriarchal, colonial and mono cultural representations?