I want to become the artistic director of an allotment garden site.
A large green area, divided into plots, where different people or groups of people can create and grow in collaboration with plants.
A place that is always open. For walks, for conversations over the garden fence. For harvesting and campfires.
And for culture. For exhibitions and performances, for participatory projects and discourse events. The allotment garden is not neutral and clean. Sometimes wet, sometimes dry.
Not a black box and not a white cube. The allotment garden is full and asymmetrical and colourful and completely different depending on the season. Because why should we view and produce culture exclusively in seemingly neutral spaces? Art does not happen in neutral spaces. Art happens in specific spaces that are shaped by power. Art uses apparatuses and hierarchies, funding structures and myths. Art happens in societies and out of societies.
The allotment garden is a reflection of its time. It grows, there are rules and resistance, there are parcels but the meadow and the weeds don't care about fences. There is weather and seasons and oxygen. That's where I want to look at art. In connection to the world, in connection to me. In resistant structures that question where I am and what I perceive. And on the other hand, how I produce. Garden parcels replace the ensemble structure. The garden replaces rehearsal stage, meeting room, balcony and performance space. It can be everything and nothing.
In the allotment, people rehearse, develop, discard, garden, harvest, invite, relax and occasionally mow. The allotment garden produces apples just as much as painting, performance or music. The view over the garden fence is always possible. Theatres should be places where everyone is always welcome. Why do we need a huge house, shielded from everything, to which invitations are always extended only at certain times? Huge empty theatre foyers whose only purpose is to serve as a representative transit place in the evenings shortly before and after the performance seem to make little sense. You can always walk through the allotment and observe what (doesn't) happen. Peeks over the fence are always allowed. Also enquiries, if desired.
I want to be the artistic director of an allotment garden that disdains hedges and worships compost. The plots are the trades. Urban gardening the canteen. The meetings are in the clubhouse. What would the art look like that would be produced in this allotment? Probably technically inexpensive. Fairy lights instead of profilers. Bonfires instead of smoke machines. The allotment garden would shape what is produced and how. But it would be naïve to claim that the architecture of the municipal theatre does not shape what is produced and how. To change how we (want to) make art in today's world, we have to change where we are and how we show. For example, in the allotment garden.
This text was written just like that.
It was written by Emilia Schlosser.