Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Love Letter to the Trees/ Berlin Sustainable City/ Apocalypse #TruthTreesTrust, #ActinTime


Between the cemetery and Alexanderplatz a question takes shape.
Lorenzo Bernini's Apollo and Daphne
“The Parable of the Blind” by  Pieter   Bruegel the Elder, also known as "The Blind Leading the Blind" 1568

Love Letter to the Trees/ Berlin Sustainable City/ Apocalypse #TruthTreesTrust, #ActinTime 

The history of art is built on a junkyard, piles, and piles of film reels, canvases, stories, stones, and shrapnel of past conflicts that find themselves embedded in the trees, full of stories of their own.  I tried to edit a film of some of these stories, but I didn’t know where to show it. Caroline talked about building a monument to those who had suffered, the women the soldiers found in Berlin and Sarajevo, raped, collateral damage, who became pregnant, never seeing their fathers again. I worried about the trees the city was consuming in the name of progress, Caroline about the bodies torn asunder. War is the greatest polluter, I thought, looking at the residue of conflicts, fires in Kuwait, and landmines in Ukraine. And we came to Berlin. I had one friend in town, another in Leipzig. Both were out of the country when we arrived in Prenzlauerberg last summer. 

Walking through Alexanderplatz, in the heat, I thought of a novel and a scream from an old TV show. Identical details and sameness everywhere, cars zooming about; you could be in Tokyo or Los Angeles. Reification and one-dimensional city, I couldn't remember, walking in a daze amidst big box stories and a galleria-like suburban shopping mall. I walked up the street, trying to remember who I was. I looked left, the Soho House was selling expensive cocktails like the city I was getting away from. Across Prenzlauer Allee and Mollstrasse, the doors to a cemetery were open. Quiet trees, weeds, an art show, gravestones, a refugee charging his phone, a friend greeted this stranger.  

That first Sunday afternoon, Niels told me about the space: “The 'Verwalterhaus', project space for contemporary art and culture Berlin is located in the old cemetery St. Marien - St. Nikolai and was built in 1912 on the foundation walls of a smaller predecessor building. It is home to five rooms on the lower level and six rooms on the upper level. Since 2014, artists have had the opportunity to present and redesign their work in this 300 square meter space. In the middle of Berlin, opposite the Soho House, it is an extraordinary and authentic place. In the meantime, the Verwalterhaus has become an important institution for artists living in Berlin and international artists. In terms of content, the aim is in the broadest sense for artists to deal with the special spatial environment and to develop and publicly present their work on very essential themes such as life and death, memory and transience.”

Each week a different opening or finessage would take place there, with artists there every day ready to talk about their ideas. I started going every week. And I found friends in a new city, bringing people by, slowly connecting my life in New York with the struggles in Berlin. 

This was a community space, opening to questions about a city, with its contested spaces.  I was working on a documentary film about contests over public space in New York when I arrived.  Over the next year,  I saw the same struggle here. The Prinzessinnengarten in Kreutzberg was going through its own conflicts and struggles over what kind of space it would become. Plans for a highway through Berlin’s green spaces, for housing on Troptower Park put the public spaces of Berlin into play. This would be a struggle over what kind of a city this would be. No one was even sure Verwalterhaus would last as an arts space. 

Stories about public spaces open any number of competing storylines, including questions about biodversity and urbanism.  Capitalism is frequently referred to as the means of production for climate change, I found myself replying to questions when asked about the movie, situating contests over green spaces in a world full of automobiles, heating the planet, and taking us in an unsustainable direction. To alter this, cities can become more sustainable, including open green spaces and non-polluting transportation. The majority of the people in the world live in cities. If cities can be sustainable, we have a better chance at a future. Yet, to get there involves a clash, between those who see public spaces as commodities to monetize by the inch, and supporters of sustainable urbanism, who favor greening and democratizing the commons. Working through this, we navigate this collision between bodies in spaces. Without access to the streets, questions about democracy go out the door. After all, public spaces are mirror reflections of our democracy. When they are full of color they thrive; when they are full of cops or restrictions curtailing speech, it suffers. Composed of five connected public space battles, from Critical Mass Bike Rides to Community Gardens, struggles for a sustainable city, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matters, my documentary tale of two cities traces a story about both New York and the world. With parks and green spaces at risk from Istanbul to Manhattan, this is both a New York and a global story.  The community gardens are central to this story. Past is prologue, what happens with New York's neighborhoods, high rents and patterns of displacement, seem to be what will happen in Berlin. Save the Garden, Save the City, say garden activists. Save the city, save the world. Order is coming to Berlin, some worry, just like it came to New York. The same thing happened to New York three decades ago. And the city lost a bit of its soul in the cleanup. Keep New York Sexxxy, activists chanted. In Berlin, we are poor but we are sexy, said an old mayor. Keep Berlin Sexxy! Save the Gardens, Save the City.

This was the story of The Community Gardens and Public Spaces of New York, the short film at the center of my film, written and Directed by yours truly, Peter Shapiro, Executive Producer, Segment Producer, and Videographer, Barbara Ross, Segment Associate Producer, Videographer, Guilherme Coelho, Sound Mixer, Leslye O, Video editor.

As Spring began, I asked Neils if we could show some of our world at Verwalterhaus. Sure he replied, offering us ten days from July 27th to August 6th, 2023.  I’d show the fifteen-minute clip about the gardens. Caroline would show her photography and a monument. Together, we’d curate and organize a group of ten artists. 

Caroline and I worked on the text for the show, TRUTHTRUSTTREES, situationg questions about climate, trees, and bodies in space, in a struggle with time. 

“Bowie warned in 1972: we have five years.

The climate clock is ticking,

counting down to anthropocene.

Standing at the Verwalterhaus in the cemetery, we see majestic trees and graves, while across from us are shopping malls and big box stores, a tidal wave of identical details encroaching from Alexanderplatz. Yet, the ghosts from the graves push back: Mother nature is the key to the sustainable future! In Berlin, with increasing prices the pre-gentrified past is threatened by rising rents and cost of living. What makes the city unique is being displaced. Trees are cut down to make way for new buildings, and Europe’s greenest city begins to pale, and sink. Yet In the most recent Volkswahl, Berliners agreed to turn down the dependence on gas for heat, add an extra sweater, but not cars and not meat. Times Square, Shibuya Crossing, are coming to Berlin. ARE YOU READY? Cars pollute, people produce mass amounts of waste, but the war machine is the biggest polluter of them all: mountains of concrete and metal waste pile up in the Ukraine and lie buried under all major German cities, bodies CONTINUE TO BE violated and torn to pieces; landmines continue to kill and maim for generations to come; and radioactive pollutants contaminate the land, air, and water. Patriarchy and Power, parents of their petulant child Capitalism, are dragging us to our doom. We face a choice: consume more, add more cars and fossil fuels, shop ourselves to death, hate those we are tasked to love and watch tides rise. Or become more sustainable, open green spaces, use non-polluting transportation, treasure all people and end wars. When does it change? When we demand it. This is the decisive task for all of us. Come celebrate the trees. Gardens are the future of cities! Decarbonize! Unplug! Destroy cars! Make art! We can do a lot. Come hug a tree! Celebrate life under the drone of climate doom! Gaia is calling. We need to answer.

Come celebrate the trees. Gardens are the future of cities! Decarbonize! Unplug! Destroy cars! Make art! We can do a lot. Celebrate life under the drone of climate doom! Gaia is calling.

Alena Grom

Laura Lukitsch

Verena Issel

Sonya Schönberger

Nina E. Schönefeld

Benjamin Heim Shepard

Caroline Shepard

Andreas Templin

Philip Topolovac

Magaly Vega.”

For years, Caroline @seashipsailing talked about creating a monument to those who endured sexual violence, to those who lost their bodily autonomy, their rights with unwanted pregnancies. I thought about Daphne, who transformed herself into a laurel tree, to elude the clutches of Apollo. Violence against bodies, against trees, felt the same. Caroline found oral histories by Helke Sander about the fate of the women in Berlin after the war, Spring 1945 in fallen Berlin without government, open season on bodies, raped by soldiers liberating the city, unwanted pregnancies, shame, stigma, and trauma following. Caroline had had other shows on activism. We’d had a finessage at our home, a sontaug, we’d continue in Brooklyn. 

All spring we planned, curating the show. Caroline made studio visits. I visited Dickee Marie, writing about the trees of history, collaborating, looking at the history of Berlin, its conflicts and trees, gardens and friends. 

Niels welcomed us, openning the space. 

And pieces started coming together. 

Andreas talked about our indecision, “The Blind Leading the Blind”, referring to “The Parable of the Blind” by Breugel the elder, sharing his work with us, sharing music. 

Magaly Vega dropped by each day, assembling flowers and memories, the sublime and the tragic mixing, between femicide and the beauty of a garden, constructing a space about a secret history of violence against women. She told me about her work: “I call it a performative installation,” she said describing an inviting domestic scene full of flowers, a knocked-over chair, the sounds of someone quietly suffering. “At some point, people enter and interact with the piece. You don’t just stare.  I’ve been working through this concept since the pandemic when I went back to Mexico, to my childhood house. That pushed me to think about what we have, how its related to Mexico,” she told me, referring to a legal system that does not always accept violence against women as a reality to take seriously. “Sometimes you don’t see progress that is supposed to be there. I didn’t see it in the household. Its about the law and when people accept those paradigms. I don’t believe women are as safe as you say they are. There is something between what media portrays as passion crimes. Its private space. Things happen. I’m still not safe. There’s still this fear.” She pointed at the flowers in the room. “Plants are tools of resistance. I’m thinking about things you have.”  Femicide,  the act of killing women because they are women, is only recently recognized in Mexico. The country only began documenting it in 2012, with rates of more than than 1000 in 2021. “There is progress,” says Magaly. “But there is still a lot to talk about. People are still being killed. According to the UN, every eleven minutes, a girl or woman is threatened, half in their own homes.  This is why talking about domestic space is so important.  In this space, I talk about air as a space of cruelty, of suffering. What killed them was lack of air, not the hand.”

Laura put together a sound montage about the trees. "It's about discrepancies. Who is represented and who is missing. It's about struggle. It's about propoganda. Statues have historically been programs of the state," said @laurajlukitsch, referring to her work the show.

Berlin Artweek advertized, 


Group Show: ‘TruthTrustTrees’

Opening Reception & Performance by Patrick Jambon: Thursday, July 27; 6–9pm

Concert by Andreas Templin: Thursday, July 27; 8:30pm

Exhibition: July 27–Aug. 6, 2023

St. Marien- und St. Nikolai-Friedhof I, Prenzlauer Allee 1, 10405 Berlin.”

And finally, the Monday arrived to hang the show.  We began transporting the work of artsists from all over city. Emilio rented a car. We carried it downstairs, down Prenzlauer Allee, to the cemetary, deliverring each to their respective homes, piles of objects pregnant with meaning, laying them out all day. And then going for beer and pizza at the International Cafe, across from the Babylon theater.

Tuesday, I tried to pick up the climate clock, discovering the UPS delivery site was on vacation.  The climate clock is lost in transit, the artists busy hanging their wares for the show, trying to assemble pieces, recalling intentions, creating to animate, to lull stories from rocks and granite, lost and transformed in the wreckage, of the piles of materials in the cemetery. I’m not sure how to make sense of it all. 

At first, the loop didn't work on the video for my documentary.  UPS sent back the Climate Clock. Wednesday, we looked at what we had, still assembling. 

Thursday, the bot from UPS replied to our plea, telling us the clock was to be delivered at a new location later in the afternoon, two hours before the show. 

I rode by to pick it up. 

At first it didn’t work. A little re assembling and it turned on just below, red light screaming, just below Nina E. Schönefeld’s video, “C.O.N.T.A.M.I.N.A.T.I.O.N.” Nina and the Climate clock animated the top floor, reminding us about the IPCC report. “Five years, 361 days” says the clock, juxtaposed with words and black and white images, act now. "We are dying but we are not dead yet,” says a face on a black and white video. “We have a chance. Action begins. The truth survives. We do not forget, expect us to never stop fighting..."

And Sinead departed. I remember never having heard anything like it, listening to her record in 1987 or so.. Nothing quite like it:

“Ran down and the lady said it

It got torn down

And the priest just said

It got burned

They give me five years five years

It's my turn.”

Five years, it's her turn, our turn. It's our future. 

Patrick Jambon was the first person I saw at the opening, reminding us to laugh with each other, to laugh at ourselves. He’s at every opening. It wouldn’t be an opening without him. I remember meeting him, him showing us his list of openings for the evening. We asked him join us. 

Art is a space for meaning making and connection. Its also a space for competition and commodity exchange, fetishes expanding. But there is a different kind of a story we were looking for. I remember the opennings in the desert in Claremont, with bands playing, wine pouring, the studios openning. Berlin feels more like that, as a place where ideas dance, rather then compete. 

Rachel toasted us with mezcal. Andreas played in the chappel, channeling a space between Chick Correa and Stockhausen, Phillip Glass and Glenn Gould. 

And the Berlin buddies converged. Niels greeted everyone. And Nichlas and Gentian and Falco and Max, Allessandre and Federico, Micah from NYC, friend after friend arrived. 

It's really one story, I explain, walking through the show. Each of the artists wrote about what they contributed:

SONYA SCHÖNBERGER Den Trümmern zum Trotze (Despite the Ruble) 2014 14 Trümmerberge gibt es in Berlin. Hier kann man direkt auf den unfassbaren Auswirkungen des Krieges wandeln. Unter den Füßen die Stadt von damals, die Unbekannte. Der Überlebenswille, der Aufbau spiegelt sich an diesen Stellen direkt wieder. Die Natur, die darüber wächst. Mit einer Agfa-Box und abgelaufenem Film habe ich versucht, sie abzubilden. In Berlin there are 14 hills made up of the rubble left by the war. There, one can walk directly on top of the intangible consequences of the destruction. Under your feet lurks the city of before, unknown. The will to survive, to be remembered, is mirrored in the remnants which reveal themselves and the nature that grows above it. With an Agfa box camera and expired film, I attempted to capture it. 

VERENA ISSEL Why 2022 Handgeflzte Schafswolle mit Wischmopp 73.5 x 120.5 cm ‘Loren Ipsum’ has been the graphics industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500’s, when an unknown printer took a galley of the type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. But, it is also a piece of Cicero text, where he speaks about Dolores Ipsum – the pain itself. 

VERENA ISSEL Heimat, trotz euch III 2022 Handgeflzte Schafswolle mit Wischmopp 138 x 140 cm Are the tents for recreation? Or are they refugee tents? And will we all be climate refugees soon? CAROLINE SHEPARD Treptow Station 2023 Contemplating Verena’s unsettling question— ‘will we all be climate refugees?’— I passed a picture by an unmarked photographer, wheat pasted in the S-Bahn station in Treptower park. In it, a Ukrainian woman shockingly remakes her home in what looks like a subway station, while here, in Berlin, the sun shines and are routines are uninterrupted by war. We are reminded, tents aren’t only an ominous shadow in our future; they have always served as homes for displaced people. 

PHILIP TOPOLOVAC Großmutter-Paradoxon Readymades, zwei Bügeleisen Marke Siemens, 20er Jahre, eines restauriert, das andere Kriegsfundstück aus Berlin Mitte (Torstr), H 14 x B 10 x T 18 cm, 2017 Großvater- Paradoxon Readymades, zwei Handbohrer, markenlos, 30er Jahre, einer restauriert der andere Kriegsfundstück aus Berlin Kreuzberg (Stallschreiberstr), H 11 x B 13 x T 47 cm, 2017 Authentizität und Verklärung, Vorstellung und Wahrheit sind Themen die häufig in Philip Topolovac´ Arbeit thematisiert werden. Im Falle der umfangreichen Sammlung kriegszerstörter Objekte, die Topolovac in den letzten Jahren aus Baugruben in Berlin gerettet hat, handelt es sich um gänzlich reale, historische Gegenstände. Die vielen Nachkriegsbrachen am Mauerstreifen und im geteilten Rest der Stadt werden seit der Wiedervereinigung mit Hochdruck wieder bebaut. Der Immobilienboom öffnet dabei ein Zeitfenster in die dramatische Vergangenheit und bringt Zeugnisse der weitreichenden Zerstörung Berlins im Krieg hervor. Die eigentlich zur Entsorgung vorgesehenen Altlasten quellen aus dem Erdreich, wie aus dem Unterbewusstsein der Stadt. Hinter den Bauzäunen tritt die Geschichte zutage, um sogleich wieder getilgt zu werden. In zahlreichen Arbeiten befragt Topolovac die Bedeutung und den Wert dieser Artefakte und setzt sie in neue Zusammenhänge. In dem Werkpaar „Großmutter- Paradoxon“ und „Großvater-Paradoxon“ stellt er die gleichen Gegenstände mit unterschiedlichen Schicksalen einander gegenüber. Im Falle der Großmutter handelt es sich um zwei baugleiche Bügeleisen der Marke Siemens (Modell EPD 30dh). Die andere Arbeit basiert auf zwei markenlosen Handbohrern. In beiden Arbeiten werden restaurierte, neu verchromte Exemplare einem im Krieg zerstörten und aus Berliner Baugruben geretteten gegenüber gestellt. Der Begriff des „Großvaterparadoxons“ ist dabei aus einer Theorie des Zeitreisens entlehnt, wobei im Kern die Frage steht, ob jemand, der in die Vergangenheit reist und seine Großeltern tötet, danach überhaupt existieren könnte, um diese Reise anzutreten, weil die Person ja dann gar nicht geboren worden wäre. Diese Arbeit verstärkt so nicht nur die Frage nach der Herkunft und der Identät der Objekte sondern unterstreicht auch das Rätselhafte ihrer Bedeutung im Hier und Jetzt. Grandmother-Paradox Readymades, two flat irons produced by Siemens in the 20’s; one restored, the other one a war find from Berlin Mitte (Torstr), H 14 x B 10 x T 18 cm, 2017 Grandfather- Paradox Readymades, two hand drills from the 30’s, one restored, the other one a war find from Berlin Kreuzberg (Stallschreiberstr), H 11 x B 13 x T 47 cm, 2017 Authenticity and transfiguration, imagination and truth are themes that are often addressed in Philip Topolovac's work. In the case of the extensive collection of war-destroyed objects that Topolovac has rescued from building pits in Berlin in recent years, these are entirely real, historical objects. Since reunification, the many post-war wastelands along the Wall and in the divided rest of the city have been rebuilt at full speed. In the process, the real estate boom opens a window into the dramatic past and brings forth evidence of Berlin's extensive destruction during the war. The contaminated sites, which were actually intended for disposal, are oozing out of the ground as if from the city's subconscious. Behind the construction fences, history emerges, only to be immediately erased. In numerous works, Topolovac questions the meaning and value of these artifacts and places them in new contexts. In the pair of works "Grandmother Paradox" and "Grandfather Paradox" he juxtaposes the same objects with different fates. In the case of the grandmother, the objects are two identical Siemens irons (model EPD 30dh). The other work is based on two unbranded hand drills. In both works, restored, newly chromed examples are juxtaposed with one destroyed during the war and rescued from Berlin construction pits. The concept of the "grandfather paradox" is borrowed from a theory of time travel, the core of which is the question of whether someone who travels into the past and kills his grandparents could exist afterwards to make this journey at all, because then the person would not have been born at all. This work thus not only reinforces the question of the origin and identity of the objects, but also underscores the enigmatic nature of their meaning in the here and now. 

ANDREAS TEMPLIN The Blind leading the Blind 2000 (After Pieter Breughel the Elder.) The 2020s seem to me like a time of crossroads, a time of transition on many different levels. It also seems difficult to me at the present time just to interpret the near future. This peculiar feel is not new to me though. It found already once expression in an artwork from the year 2000. The philosophical question posed by The Parable of the Blind (after Pieter Bruegel the Elder) prompts us to examine the relationship between knowledge, leadership, and the collective fate of humanity - properties that today more than ever will have far-reaching influence on the near and distant future. 

MAGALY VEGA A Somber Haze Affair 2023 You breathe…the light enters.The air as an instrument - The air as a bond - The violence of the invisible - It disrupts all of us. How are certain spaces transformed physically and symbolically with the use we give to the air? How do our bodies resist certain instruments of violence? How do we redefine our relationship with air? This is an installation performative work that investigates the relationship between air and the violence of the invisible. The kind of violence that is linked to what we normally do not associate with instruments of cruelty. In this case, the management of air supply as a weapon for femi(ni)cide worldwide, especially in domestic spaces. 

PHILIP TOPOLOVAC Bodenprobe Skulptur, Glasfundstück aus dem 2. Weltkrieg in Berlin (Heinrich-Heine Str.) H 19 x B 18 x T 15 cm, 2016 Geschichtet, verformt, kristallartig explodiert oder wie Schlacke geschmolzen können nur bruchstückhafte Hinweise auf den Ursprung dieser Glasobjekte erkannt werden. Wie eine Mineraliensammlung inszeniert, erschließt sich ihre Entstehungsgeschichte in den Feuern des Bombenkrieges erst nach und nach, um dann umso stärker zu wirken. Statt wertvoller Edelsteine ist es die Wucht der Zerstörung, die uns hier mit ihrer Form- und Farbvielfalt betört. Das besonders große und seltene Exemplar in der Ausstellung wurde in Berlin Kreuzberg ausgegraben. Ground Sample Sculpture, Glass Object from 2nd World War found in Berlin Kreuzberg (Heinrich-Heine Str.) H 19 x B 18 x T 15 cm, 2016 Layered, deformed, exploded like crystals or melted like slag, only fragmentary clues to the origin of these glass objects can be discerned. Staged like a collection of minerals, their genesis in the fires of the bombing war only gradually reveals itself, only to become all the more potent. Instead of precious gems, it is the force of destruction that beguiles us here with its variety of form and color. The particularly large and rare specimen in the exhibition was excavated in Berlin Kreuzberg. 

ANDREAS TEMPLIN Installation of the exhibition „Goodbye, World“, 2021 An exhibition on an Arctic ice floe, curated by Andreas Templin and Raimar Stange Winner international open call Apexart, NYC The Arts Bid Farewell. Record high temperatures in the Arctic, rising sea levels, and erosion of rainforests leave no doubt: in the face of climate change, we risk saying goodbye to countless species of plants and animals, to islands and waterfront cities, and tragically to millions of people facing food insecurity from climate change. In the midst of this catastrophe, contemporary art is saying farewell, too. Goodbye, World brings eco-friendly works by internationally-renowned artists to an ice floe in Arctic Sweden where they will remain until the ice melts and the artworks sink to the ocean floor. The project not only reacts to the consequences of global warming, it tentatively aligns itself with these outcomes and conceptually applies them in its presentation. The disappearance of art critiques an art industry that has been overly focused on the production and lucrative sales of works, while dealing in continuous visibility as a basis for commercial success. It is for this reason that Goodbye,World presents a scenario in which valuable works of art are 'sunk' and removed from circulation indefinitely. Participating artists: Nika Fontaine Nadira Husain Jonathan Monk Olaf Nicolai Peter Niemann Eliana Otta Martha Rosler Stefanie von Schroeter Veit Schütz Joulia Strauss 

ALENA GROM The Stolen Spring VIDEO AND PHOTOGRAPHS 2022 In 2022, Russian troops occupied the Kiev region. During the fighting, the cities were destroyed: Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka. Local residents became victims of Russian aggression. Now people are restoring their cities, their personal lives and looking to the future. The Stolen Spring photographic series is in an historical dialogue with images by Polish photographer Michael Nesch, who captured how the photographer used a decorative backdrop to mask the ruins of Warsaw during World War II in 1945-1946. Ukrainian artist, photodocumentist Alena Grom was born in Donetsk in 1976. In April 2014 she was forced to leave her home and hometown due to military events in Donbass. However, even after physically leaving her hometown, she did not leave it emotionally. Her region turned into a daily military chronicle, where the 24 hours were estimated at the number of killed and wounded, and her house was robbed and shot down by marauders. In such conditions photography has become a salvation for Ms. Grom and a way to escape from a traumatic reality. Since 2017 she has lived in Bucha. As a result of the full-scale invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine in February 2022, Grom and her family became refugees for the second time. 

NINA E. SCHÖNEFELD C.O.N.T.A.M.I.N.A.T.I.O.N. Full HD video // with sound// 2021 // 11:11 min. Written, Edited & Directed NINA E. SCHÖNEFELD Director of Photography VALENTIN GIEBEL Sound & Music CARLOS PABLO VILLAMIZAR Featuring SOPHIA SALEBIA & DARIA PRYDYBAILO “This is RESIST CLIMATE CHANGE. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us to never stop fighting.” Since the late 1970’s Greenpeace has been fighting against dumping of nuclear waste in the seas to prevent worldwide contamination. 2019 Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for Future were omnipresent. Since Covid everything has changed and the environmental threat of climate change has intensified. 2030 is fast approaching and will be a crucial year for the world. C.O.N.T.A.M.I.N.A.T.I.O.N. is a plea on the relevance to bring back, support and intensify environmental activism.

CAROLINE SHEPARD Who Holds the Shame Mixed media, 2023 Berlin has a missing history, and it belongs to the mostly German women who were hunted by Russian soldiers for a period of eight weeks at the end of the Second World War. The attacks were unimaginable, occurred night and day without protection, and many women and girls died, others sought abortions and unaccountable children resulted. It is estimated that over 2 million women experienced rape. When the soldiers returned these women were silenced for the sake of rebuilding. Left on their own to recover from immense trauma, often never recalling what happened. After reading Anonymous’s shocking account of what transpired during this short time, I felt compelled to honor these women with a memorial. Sadly, rape continues to this day to be used as a weapon of war. Helke Sanders, a German film maker, sought in 1992 to make sense of what happened and shed light on this missing history. 

CAROLINE SHEPARD Don’t Tread On Me Photographs/Photomontage, 2023 In 2022, the US Supreme Court took away the federal protection for women in the US to safely have access to abortion, while a right-wing insurgency stormed the US capital shouting “Don’t tread on me.” It struck me that women’s bodies have always been tread on and I created the floor piece to reflect this idea. I brought it to Germany and immediately felt the connection to Anonymous’ story. The beautiful streets of Berlin held no sign of the violence to women‘s bodies, the rapes, that had happened. I wanted to mark the spaces with my camera, much in the way the Stolpersteins tell the story of the Jewish population that one lived in the buildings. 

LAURA J. LUKITSCH BODIES AND HEROES Part of the ongoing archive project, Park Project Berlin Before arriving in Berlin in September 2016, I had been researching the development of public transportation systems in cities from San Francisco to Mexico City to Beijing. Through this work, I became increasingly aware of the entanglement between commercial interests, political ideology, and economic systems that were often at odds with the will of the people. Who and what we monumentalize in public space operates in a similar fashion. Historically monuments were the PR of the state. Visit Rome and you’ll see images of the Virgin Mary in various building corners and walls, reminding people to be virtuous. Today’s equivalent is advertising space and politicians now compete with advertisers of goods and services. But the statues are still public and still broadcast their messages whether we perceive them consciously or not. Who is represented in our public spaces and who is missing? Moving into a post-figurative art movement is not enough to explain the discrepancies that continued to exist in our public spaces. Monuments have been moved throughout history to serve the political agenda of the people in power. But monuments have also to been demanded by groups calling for remembrance and space in the public mind. VIDEO: Monumental Women, the 14 named women statues in Berlin [TRT 8 min] LISTS: Monuments and Statues of Berlin, including named people and allegorical representations WALL OF WOMEN: Notes on the parks and squares named after women (45 out of 2,500) ….After the Second World War Germany’s cities were in ruins with bombed-out buildings in piles of bricks, or rubble (trümmer). The cities needed to be cleaned up and there were few available men to help and few jobs for women so women were recruited to help clear the rubble. In the media, they were portrayed as volunteers helping clean up Germany. Later, women’s groups across Berlin and Germany campaigned to have statues made remembering these efforts. You can see a documentary about the group of women who campaigned for the Trummerfrau in Hasenheide at the Spandau Zitadell museum at the end of the Unveilded exhibition. HOW DO WE LOVE THIS WORLD//REFLECTIONS ON LOVE Four individuals share their personal reflections on the complexity of love, longing and loss. This audio is a stream of reflections. Feel into your body. How do these reflections resonate with you? What thoughts and feelings do they inspire in your being? What memories, wishes, desires, and grief do they trigger? How can we love this world into a better place for everyone and all species and habitats? Interviews: Anette Pollner, Psychologist, lover of trees Alice Cannova, Founder and Editor of Occulto Magazine Eva Fiore Kovacovsky, Artist, works with plant material Olive Bieringa, Somatic Practitioner… 

Sitting for the show, I listen to her sound piece, montages of voices: 

“I admire the trees that stand there. Standing there. Utopian manner, respecting each other, without encroaching upon each other. 

Urban gardening can make a difference.

The biodiversity of cities teaches us.

Beating back the pesticides, gardening is a form of activism. 

We would gather around, hugging the trees, twenty-five of us, walking in the woods, how amazing it was to experience the scale.

There are beach trees that grow right next to the water. 

I started to looking at planting on the street.

I looked at a natural history of my garden. 

The fun things about these beings, these trees, we are learning from them, holding the nets of teh planet, decomposing and holding the landscape and forest and coastline together, forming this hillside. Not just the individual, but beginning to perceive the landscape, that was really exciting. And whats gonna be possible once we are gone. HTey have the capacity to generate life. THey are the foundation of our lives. Without them, we wouldn’t be here. 

They will be here creating life after we are gone. 

Love has to do with connection, feeling embedded, perceiving, or in relation with nature, in a meadow or a forest, the smell of mushrooms. Every berry is a sense of a taste. 

It begins with a love of mushrooms, love of algae, seeing this familiarity. 

Love is to care. One species or many. The trees are connected. Humans are killing many species as if we are teh only species who will ever be here. After humans are extinct, other life will continue. 

I’m mostly interested in hanging out in nature. Love as intimacy, peaceful and relaxed. 

The trees show me life continues, it opens up, it closes, through the seasons.    

We are in this constant breathing together. Trees are there, connected to the soil, to the air. To be ourselves, supporting each other in a respectful way.    







Each day, different people come into the show, resonating with Caroline’s monument, a female torso, with roots and branches, a mythological story, and a narrative for our time. 

“Burning the Amazon, we are smoking ourselves to death, losing air to breathe,” says one visitor. 

The war on trees is everywhere. 

Lets keep the conversation going for the next nine days for #TreesTruthTrust.

Thank you for making such a wondrous night and year. Thank you for sharing your stories and thoughts, dreams and nightmares, hopes and concerns.

"We've got five years, that's all we've got" said Bowie.

Maybe he was right?

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