The Garden. Cinematics of the Soil
Amidst felt-and-tar fisherman’s huts on a shingle beach on England’s southern shore, in a neighborhood directly adjacent to a nuclear power plant and a military base, stands Prospect Cottage: The last residence of British artist, activist and filmmaker Derek Jarman (*1942), who died of HIV-related causes in 1994. Here, at Prospect Cottage, he planted the garden he had longed for: “I waited a lifetime to build my garden. I built my garden with the colours of healing on the sepia shingle at Dungeness. [...] Here was a garden to soothe the mind.” (in: Chroma: Book of Colour - June ‘93)
For Jarman, the garden was the place he wanted to be; it was his therapy. It was here that he found shelter from what the queer artist perceived as an increasingly destructive and discriminating world. A utopian place of collaborative coexistence between humans and nature. But in his film THE GARDEN (1990), he also looks at the conflicts and contradictions of the garden as a borderland between reality and fantasy, healing and disintegration, hope and sadness. To this day Prospect Cottage is a place of pilgrimage for many queer communities and experimental film scenes from around the globe. The garden’s weekly visitors number in the thousands.
The exhibition project “The Garden” will transfer fragments of this place to silent green in Berlin for the first time, making it accessible for German and international audiences. From this starting point, it will address our increasingly precarious present times, and the disastrous state of our Earth, of the land and soil. As part of the exhibition, the soil - drained, exhausted, poisoned and disrupted - will reveal itself as a controversial archive, exposed to the changing climate of our age, and steeped in historical legacies.
To this end, “The Garden” will formulate an immersive exhibition scenography that re-processes biographical and topographical details from Jarman’s oeuvre and Prospect Cottage, in the form of objects, diaries, sketches and paintings. In addition, on a research expedition to Prospect Cottage, the curators will film the surrounding landscape from various perspectives in order to create an uninterrupted projection onto the walls of the exhibition space.
Selected artists will enter into dialogue with this scenography and update Jarman’s project. Their work will address the acute social, political and ecological phenomena of our times, such as climate change, environmental pollution, capitalism, illness and radioactivity. The aim is to develop new forms of image production with and for the Earth. This exercise in new cinematographies also means learning from the Earth - from its cycles of creation and decomposition, from its hardiness and capacity to heal, from the coexistence of various life-forms and inanimate objects. The participating artists are: Mareike Bernien and Alexandra Gerbaulet, Peter Cusack, Kerstin Schroedinger and Oliver Husain, Inas Halabi, Philip Scheffner and the CHEAP Art Collective (Susanne Sachsse, Marc Siegel and Vaginal Davis).
Accompanying conversations with international artists and activists will take a look at current ecological, political and artistic resistance practices in our relationship with the Earth and nature. These evenings will focus on topics ranging from AIDS and queer lust to eco-sexual activisim and the possibilities for new utopian spaces.
Opening: 6. 8. 2020
Exhibition: 7. - 30. 8. 2020
A Project of silent green Film Feld Forschung gGmbh.
Supported by Federal Cultural Foundation (KSB).
Curators: Bettina Ellerkamp, Jörg Heitmann, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus