An investigatigation undertaken in Berlin for “Mobile Research Station #1” – an arrangement by artist Simon Faithful. Given the caracthere of the work, it is as yet “unfinished” in the sense that it has not reached any definite result, but is at present a series of questions having arised during the course of my work. It may and may not turn out to be a continuous project.
mobile research station #1
Invited a number of artists to spend a period in a research station, conducting “blue-sky-research” of an empty lot located where the old Mauerstreife used to be –i.e. on the border between the old East and West– and that since 2006 has been a project site named Skulpturenpark Berlin Zentrum. Having no preset outcomes, the explorations were carried out from entirely subjective viewpoints, and consequently differed radically in carachtere. The arrangement was carried out in collaboration with Skulpturenpark and was concluded by an open seminar where the different research projects were introduced to the public.
An inventory of the herbaceous flowering plants growing in the area resulted in a flora of 49 different species. This came to constitute the startingpoint for an examination of the remarkably vague and contradictory rules that govern the classification of a plant as “native”or as “non-native”, and of the prevailing idea of an “indigenous flora”.
This brought about a general survey of a perspective that has been predominant within botanics for the last 20 years or so – one where new plants immigrate and threaten the conditions of what is considered the indigenous flora and that has boosted a fear of exotic, invasive species that has become a major issue on the agendas of many governments.
An inspection of the field betrayed no sign of “non-native” species being more aggressive or dominant than “native” ones. Consulting Darwin’s 1859 “On the Origin of Species”, I found myself dissatisfied with his claim for competition as the dominating force of evolution and further research led me on to Peter Kropotkin and his publication “Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution” from 1902. Comparing his theories with the ones of Darwin, some quite extraordinary perspectives seemed to open up – in terms of botanics as well as of society.
My findings amounted to 49 plants, out of which 31 are classified as natives and 13 as non-natives
Out of the non-natives, eight were archaeophytes (early immigrants, first introduced before 1492 A.D. when Christopher Columbus arrived in America) and five were neophytes (immigrants introduced after that point in time)
Two turned out to be listed as not occuring as wild in Germany while three remained unidentified.
Charles Darwin, UK, 1809-1882
from On the Origin of Species
“….one general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”
Peter Kropotkin, Russia, 1842-1921
from Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
“…an instinct that has been slowly developed among animals and men in the course of an extremely long evolution, and which has taught animals and men alike the force they can borrow from the practice of mutual aid and support…”