On August 25th, 2018 participants of the first iteration of the Perennial Institute were invited to make an offering back to nature and plant life.
Above: An act of reconciliation performed for the harm done to plants and the planet in the hope that we can have a better relationship with each other in the future. “I’m sorry, please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” was said as we offered the plants a drink of water, hopeful they would tell other plants. The performance encourages others to re-enact the offering with a cup of water and a sincere apology.
Below: Another offering, this time an opportunity to commune with plants at Tempelhof Field via a wearable, living, plant jumpsuit.
Below: We started the program by tuning into our bodies, our senses and the plants around us through Shoring-yoku (forest bathing) in Tiergarten park. Moving from the space within to the infrathin we then with the collective, Scent Club Berlin we explored olfactory sensations through the transformative process of scent distillation with seasonally abundant Basil and Lavender. Later, we collaboratively wrote stories to describe the scents which resulted in the creation of ‘Corn Farmer’, a fragrance with an evocative backstory.
Below: A prototype for a pack of cards that encourage creative engagement with plants through empathy, observation, movement, senses and arrangement exercises. This pack contains 48 cards a magnifying glass and a viewing device. Cards ask participant questions like, “what does it feel like to be a plant”.
Seeing with new eyes
Andrew Rewald collaborated with me to teach plant identification of edible food in Hasenheide park, Berlin’s most urban and ‘dirty’ park. We also collaboratively cooked our haul of plants and dined from the meal, sharing personal histories, stories and relationships to food.
The process liberated all participants from the intellectual, perceptual, and visual processing traps that can lead to plant blindness.
The next day, with our ‘new eyes’ we were transformed, seeing and experiencing plants in a new way. This was an ongoing theme of the Perennial Institute and one that was pushed further through Botanical Garden and Urban Ikebana experiences.
Above: Participants at the picnic were given brown paper bags with instructions on How To Eat Lunch such as ‘Strategize: Will you eat alone? Do you want to have a conversation?’ and ‘Trade: Is there something in in another’s lunch bag you want? Is there something you would be willing to trade?’. Each bag contained a German Ploughman’s lunch and a tiny hand crafted clay vase containing edible flowers and herbs.