Ken Ehrlich + Brandon LaBelle
"Active Refuse", exploring sanitation systems in Berlin, with a presentation at the studio of Erik Göngrich
July 16, 2005
research intervention installation cooking
As part of our research and project, we set about to identify locations in the city of Berlin for the cultivation of ginger roots. Ginger served as both an active ingredient in our own mapping of shit flows, as a kind of emblem of the ways in which shit and hygiene are co-productive - ginger as a remedy for digestive problems, as a purifying agent, ultimately weds us to our own waste - in turn, ginger functioned as an identifying sign for performing Douglas Huebler's work, Location Piece #13, and his burying of 3 jugs of water in the Mojave Desert in 1969. The process of burying paralleled our own interests in exploring ways of interacting and intervening in the city, as an overarching artistic practice, indicating a means for establishing relations to a city. Burying also echoed the infrastructures of both sewage and landfill: waste is taken underground. Initially, we identified three sites for ginger planting by overlaying Huebler's original map of his own burials onto a tourist map of Berlin. Three additional sites were selected as points of the city where we had worked: the studio and apartment of Erik Göngrich, and Alexanderplatz. These functioned as centers of our own understanding and relation to the city developed over the course of the week. The actual signs consist of a text on how to cultivate ginger on a wooden pole with a ginger root attached to the base, all planted in compost bought at the BSR recycling center.
Ken preparing planting local kids wondering what the new sign says sign on corner of WinsStr and HeinrichStr sign across from Göngrich studio