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Text: Shanti Suki Osman

It was intentionally poignant that we opened Datscha Radio17 with the Hidden Stories Singers performing an updated version of a suffragette song and Gerri Gribi’s “We Say No” from 1991. Replacing occasional heteronormative imagery with trans-inclusive and intersectional scenarios, the group consciously cultivated and made space for biodiversity – in the garden, in our stories and as an underlying structure for the radio shows to come.
The Datscha garden as a space for historically and locally connected politics was exemplified by a wide range of guests and contributors that day, starting with the two-hour “Midday Discussion” about the future of the local garden colony “Einigkeit e. V.” Yet there are aspects of “political gardening” that usually evade the typically white, western and male gaze.

The broadcast “Hidden Garden Stories” presented “Die Gärtnerei”, a city garden and meeting place in Berlin-Neukölln where newcomers and people in the neighbourhood come together, quite literally, to grow something new. Situated in front of a cemetery, nestled between the sounds of police cars and aeroplanes, the founders explained their aim to transform this space into a land of the living – humanising it with new plant life, new people and new stories.

But how do we bring together these different knowledges and make it all work? In “Composer’s Garden” we heard how, in Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro’s project “Hydra Plantation Radio”, the vibrations of specific plants were turned into sounds. These plants, that the colonisers brought over to Germany to replant and serve as decoration, survived. Like people, the plants cross-pollinated, adapted and learnt how to persevere. Like people, the plants were demonised and seen as a threat. As Nathalie discussed in her interview, the plants became testimonies to the African women who witnessed the plants being stolen from them. This “living archive” of plants moves us away from those existing in institutions and museums, making space for new narratives and making the invisible visible.

“Hidden Garden Stories” also featured Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor’s “Mutter Erde”, which traces matriarchal lineages, ancestry and memory. With little knowledge of her own mother’s mother, Taylor invited other black femmes to explore, archive and re-tell their family stories in the one place she knew was relevant to their green thumbed matriarchs – the garden. As with Nathalie’s plants, and the community of the Gärtnerei, there is unknown and undocumented trauma. Despite the drone of the bees and the scratching of the shovel, there is a silence – and these various gardens seek to make room for these stories to finally be heard.

Datscha Radio17’s first day explored still more contemporary garden (his)stories, such as the onomatopoetic “Schwarz-Weiß-Gärten” of Dirk Hülstrunk and the philosophies of landscape and Baroque gardens with Katrin Schröder. Here again, stories well embedded in the past rose to the top soil.

Why is the garden the place to grow futures from imagined pasts? Berlin is scrambling with its past, present and future. The rise of the right wing displays the apparent amnesia of some of the country’s voting population – whilst its marginalised communities are reaching into their heritages and pasts to get perspective and strength for the future. Where else but in the garden can simultaneously existing lived experiences be made audible and at the same time, somehow be kept safe from harm?

 

 

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Nachtgewächsl & DJ Shlucht haben die Datscha bespielt …

während die Zuhörerenden im Garten immer mehr werden.

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Whist another wonderful Datscharadio-day has started and our Morning Choir has passed the mike to the birds and bees, please let here speak the flowers – remember that it’s been only some hours ago that PLANTS AND EMPIRE made us listen to them in the most pleasant way you can imagine, so this is the chance to make the proof: lesson learned.

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… the garden does not like to stay outdoors…

Gabi Schaffner talks to Hans Kellett about the day to come. Matthew Burnett watches over the faders of the mixer, which he will not take his eyes off of for the whole day.

Fotos: Susann Richter

At noon…

… The Hidden Story Singers enter the studio to start the radio program with feminist power.

Three curators in intimate conversation

Such heavy charms cause the stream to give up which has to be revived several times on that very day.

The only cure is to take away the colour and picture the garden in black and white.

Dirk HülsTrunk talks to Shanti Suki about white noise, black blocks and gray word weed in the gaps between the lawn and outdoor tiles.

In our first Surprise Minuit the Datscha Crew gathers around the Datscha bonfire, an old gramophone that warms us up with culinary jazz classics.

 

For the upcoming four days we promise to pick up the plain and unspectacular sounds on the edges of perception. And we will fix the stream. Promise!

 

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Photo: Kate Donovan

Datscha Radio 17 is getting ready: Artist Hans Kellett has already taken a probe of the electric whispers  of the potatos, and the printer is set up to receive and translate their secret conversations. Many many things have been transported to the Datscha, the studio is furnished and the flag is flying. There is a tent to shelter us from any rain and today’s surprise: We got an extra fridge!!!! We hear us tomorrow at 12!

They do have something to tell!

 

Kate and Hans setting up the plant communication devices for “Greenhouse Emissions”

 

Weather forecast is favorable.

 

AB knows how everything works. Many thanks to Studio Ansage!

 

The Tech Team rejoices…

 

The donated frigde! Thank you!!!!

 

The tent is set up and the cat likes it.

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Photo: Peter Ihlenfeld 2012

The garden has always been a mirror of social conditions and power structures. And as diversified a society might be as varied are its gardens. On this day, Hortus Politicus, we’ll examine the existing multiplicities, get to the bottom of them, shed some light, question them and allow them to be heard.

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The only radio art festival with garden atmo: indeed.

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And so it is said, on the morning of the Seventh Day the Garden of Eden was planted. Whether it really existed or not, we will never know. We still dream of paradise gardens. And in our own gardens we seek and find a slice of heaven and happiness. But for how much longer?

At the close of the Anthropocene, characterized by climate change and the sixth wave of extinction, this biotope of ours will not be spared. Indeed it is likely to fade away. Could the much-vaunted technological progress provide us with a remedy? Or will green life continue to exist in special areas where human access is denied? What will tomorrow’s gardens look like?

Join us for an acoustic day trip to biotopes in future perfect…

Verena Kuni (Curator/Editor)
 
Special for Morning Chorus: Miyuki Jokiranta
Concerts and Performances: Marta Zapparoli, Plants and  Empire.
Artist of the Day: Marold Langer-Philippsen with “Archie Archive In The Garden”
 

[Picture: created, chosen & inserted by Gabi Schaffner]

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