Berlin, Germany

Mireficating the Present – Aesthetics & Narratives of Peatlands

when 19 August 2024 - 22 August 2024
language English
duration 1 week
credits 1 EC
fee EUR 565

Mires have been experiencing a wave of attention in recent years. Yet the dark mythologies surrounding them haven’t changed. This workshop explores potential new languages and narratives of a nonbinary landscape as a metaphor for the present.

Like many European metropolises, Berlin has mud in its name. In the Ancient Polabian of the Slavic indigenous peoples, "Birlin" simply means "swamp city" - a name that unites the solid and the liquid, nonbinary like the territory it refers to.

In 2015, only about 740 hectares of peat soil remained. Those areas shows what Berlin could look like if the mire landscape that bears this city's name had not disappeared to make way for a densely populated metropolis and thus invites participants to envision other possible imaginaries for this urban space.

Wetlands, especially mires, have been experiencing a wave of attention in recent years. They are no longer read as storage media only in archaeology: In addition to pollen analyses, which make it possible to reconstruct the climate via traces of the flora, and perfectly preserved bog bodies, there is now a growing awareness of peat's ability to store CO2 sustainably in large quantities.

But the work of paludiculture startups exploring the agricultural potential of peatlands, and of major environmental actors revitalizing threatened wetlands, does not yet reach into the vast preconscious repertoire of mythology associated with peatlands: places of doom and death and will-o'-the-wisps that lure lonely wanderers into treacherous mire in impenetrable mists.

How can these myths be rethought and expanded to include new narratives of the bog? In our workshop we want to find new stories, but also a new language of the mire. How can it sound, between viscous mire and energy potential of peat, between solid and liquid? In a time that is discovering the blurring of boundaries, the in-between, as a progressive mode, can a landscape of threshold provide a treasure trove of metaphors to help understand the present?

Course leader

Johanna Kirschbauer, M.A. and Steffen Greiner, M.A.

Fee info

EUR 565: EUR 565