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gardens & plots: Sites of Interconnected Research

source: Lea Verholen

Art / Design / Research Colloquium III

The gardens & plots series brings together four artistic research projects at the Berlin University of the Arts that evolve from (urban) gardens and plots as sites of research and collaboration with both plants and humans. The projects draw attention to the plot as a site of conflict and resistance, and intervene in romantic imageries of the garden as a hermetic refuge and innocent “hortus conclusus.” The artists are dealing with struggles around land use and food sovereignty as well as with the oppressive heritage of cultivation techniques, botanical architectures, plant taxonomies, and the ways that humans relate to plants. Departing from different plots and gardens, the projects draw connections between agri- and horticultural ecosystems, environmental and political struggles, and related questions of community from various regions and times.

With contributions by: Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho, Işıl Eğrikavuk, Julia Kunz, and Alex Viteri & Shuntaro Yoshida
Concept: Annika Haas
Graphic design: Lea Verholen
Coordination: Lena Loose, Jasmina Samssuli, Magdalena Weidemann    

The series is part of the colloquium at the Berlin Centre for Advanced Studies in Arts and Sciences (BAS) of Berlin University of the Arts.


6 June 2023, 3pm
the other garden at Berlin University of the Arts (Mierendorffstraße 30, 10589 Berlin)

Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho: Surviving Tiempo Muerto  On Bungkalan and Peasant Resistance in the Philippines
Discussion, Closed Session

Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho’s projects often involve an immersive period of research or living within a locale, during which they try to identify particular points of tension that speak to the selective disorganization of lives and worlds in the service of profit and development.
Since 2017, Lien & Camacho have been making repeated visits to a plantation island in the Philippines called Negros, the home island of Camacho’s mother, in order to study a remarkable religious mural painted in 1950 by the queer, Filipino-American modernist Alfonso Ossorio. The mural is situated in a workers’ compound of a sugar mill in a region economically dominated by the colonial-era sugar industry.
In 2018, the Philippines was the deadliest country in the world for environmental and land activists. But it is important to note that in Negros, as in many other plantation zones around the world and throughout history, this oppressive logic has also faced lively resistance. Peasants, agrarian workers and the artist SAKA (Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo, or Artist Alliance for Genuine Land Reform and Rural Development) have innovated various strategies of protest, such as militantly occupying idle plots on plantation properties to grow diverse native food crops using organic methods in the interstices of the monocrop landscape.

Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho are collaborating artists and writers whose work moves from the Philippines outwards to other places, addressing localized iterations of labor and capital from the perspective of postcolonial damage.


31 July 2023, 4 – 6pm
HOFGRÜN at Berlin University of the Arts (Straße des 17. Juni 118, 10587 Berlin)

Julia Kunz: Collaborating with Plants
Hands-on Presentation, with special guest Shelley Etkin

Dyeing with plants refers to the thousands of years of dyeing natural textile materials like linen, cotton, wool and silk before the invention of synthetic dyes at the end of the 19th century. Julia Kunz introduces us to techniques and processes of achieving natural colours from roots, leaves and blossoms. Together with Shelley Etkin, she will discuss some of the chemical, philosophical and ethical questions related to her collaboration with plants. What is the beauty of the colour achieved through plants? How to give appreciation to the plant for collaborating? Is the colour created in the process of dyeing, or is it already there?

Julia Kunz is a trained textile designer, lecturer and workshop manager of the textile print workshop and dye lab at the UdK Berlin fashion institute working with handcraft and artisanal techniques and colour from plants.

Shelley Etkin is a transdisciplinary artist, educator, and gardener working with relations between bodies and lands through place-based knowledges, particularly in connection with plants and herbal medicines.

The Dye Plant Garden is part of the design department’s urban garden project HOFGRÜN, which was initiated 13 years ago. Since then it is a place for meetings, breaks, for sharing and collecting plants that staff and students take care of. The large wooden planter boxes host different plants, herbs and flowers, which have been sown or planted. There are some perennial plants that reappear again every year, and some plants that “decided” to grow there.


9 – 10 September 2023, 11am – 4pm (plus a small dinner on Saturday)
Lake Studios Berlin (Scharnweberstraße 27, 12587 Berlin)

Alex Viteri & Shuntaro Yoshida: Feral Encounters

Feral Encounters is a cross-disciplinary community-building 2-day event exploring dance and performance art practices devoted to a scientific sensual approach to the environment. Lake Studios Berlin will host the encounter, providing a framework for collective speculation. We wish to share knowledge, experiences, and life-affirming practices with fellow artists, choreographers, dancers, activists, journalists, critics, and scientists in the field. Guest artists will share provocations, inviting us to delve into specific aspects of the overarching theme. We welcome students from various disciplines to activate these hybrid practices. To participate, please complete this form until 31 August 2023.

Alex Viteri & Shuntaro Yoshida’s research combines scholarly writing, readings and conversations with gardening. We seek ways to translate these explorations into notions of choreography.

Einen anderen Garten
Alex & Shuntaro are part of the collective Mapped to the Closest Address (MaCA), together they take care of a horticultural garden in Markendorf (DE). The time within the garden informs and nourishes their methods. Combining scholarly readings that reflect on organisms and their material conditions with gardening practices, the collective seeks ways to translate these explorations into notions of choreography. In their related research project “Einen anderen Garten – die Recherche” they document, analyze and map practices within dance that train awareness of the environment in order to draw connections among these many practices and trace how these exist as a school of thought.


26 October 2023, 5 – 7pm
the other garden at Universität der Künste (Mierendorffstraße 30, 10589 Berlin)

Işıl Eğrikavuk: Global Protests, Co-Creation and Interconnectedness through Art
Book Launch

Işıl Eğrikavuk presents her book and PhD thesis, which takes its initiation from the Gezi Protests that started in the respective central park in Istanbul in 2013 and spread in many different cities. It points to certain intersections between the protests and her ongoing research of community arts through the artistic research project “the other garden.” The book offers the reader to look into the intersections between the Gezi protests and community arts (socially engaged, dialogue-based art practices) as well as a hands-on collaborative arts project, which Eğrikavuk realized by working with six different arts and ecology collectives from Turkey.

Dr. Işıl Eğrikavuk is an artist and academic, whose research specializes in performance, dialogue-based art practices and artistic research.

The Other Garden
Işıl Eğrikavuk founded “the other garden” in light of the lack of diversity and social space in her department. Built together with students, it is a place to grow neophytes, meaning that plants that are not native to Germany, but have made their way from other geographies, stayed, and seek to build roots in unfamiliar soil. The garden project aims to create a living and social research space within the Berlin University of the Arts that gives voice to those who are often silenced and underrepresented, inviting to have discussions and develop practices in which diversity and ecology intersect.