Werkstatt Praxistheorie – Natasha Myers (Toronto): “Disrupting edenic infrastructures: Staging plant/people conspiracies to grow livable worlds”
In response to ongoing ecological catastrophes, artists, landscape architects, and conservationists are designing gardens with the hopes of restaging people’s relationships with plants. This talk juxtaposes the aesthetics and politics of divergent garden infrastructures. One response to the widespread acknowledgement of human impact on the planet is Gardens By the Bay, Singapore’s gleaming, billion-dollar infrastructure for what could best be called “end-of-times” botanical tourism. Another response is a series of works produced by Viennese artist Lois Weinberger. His “counter gardens” – plant-based durational installations and performances – challenge the moral order of Edenic gardens by inciting the subversive forces of weedy plants, and by celebrating waste, decomposition, and decay. Weinberger’s artworks, which invert and disrupt assumptions about the function of garden enclosures enact what Rancière might call a “redistribution of the sensible.” In so doing they offer a mode of critique for grappling with Singapore’s spectacle, showing how those gardens reproduce the very logics, discourses and practices that gave rise to the devastation they purport to denounce.