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EPIPHYTEN / AUFSITZER

A piece by Juliane Köhler for Schlosspark Uhyst

Epiphyten / Aufsitzer Epiphytes are plants that are not rooted in the ground, but which live on the trunk or in the crown of a tree. Epiphytes are capable of surviving in inhospitable spaces or under heavy competition on account of their exposed location. They occupy niches and outdo rivals.

The artificial epiphytes cultivated by Juliane Köhler in the park of Uhyst Manor House climb up ten mighty old trunks and trace the history of the place in quotations. As a result, a walk through the park becomes an excursion into gardens in general, and this garden in particular, that is sure to keep visitors fascinated as they discover more and more quotations. The selected texts reflect cultural history and the history of the garden itself, with sources ranging from the Bible to interviews with local residents.

In an appealing way, they document the close links in human history between utility-oriented appropriation of nature and active recognition of nature´s aesthetic value. A reference to the Garden of Eden, as an idea of primal spiritual oneness with creation, as the prototype of an undisturbed refuge, appears at the entrance to the site. Humankind´s subsequent will to shape the natural environment has returned again and again to this point of reference, although the religious aspect became less and less important and the creativity of garden designers and their accompanying philosophies were in increasing demand worldwide.

Francis Bacon´s comment on the aesthetic potential of plants refers to the rationally calculated gardens of the Renaissance and Baroque eras. This is followed chronologically - and unsurprisingly - by a quotation from the "Garden Prince" Hermann von Pückler-Muskau which concisely reflects his then progressive approach inspired by the English landscape garden. Besides the proximity of his splendid park at Muskau, another link between Pückler and Uhyst is the fact that he attended a boarding school just a few steps from here, the now-abandoned "Adelspädagogium".

Juliane Köhler concentrates on the rich heritage of western garden culture, sensitizing visitors to the original park structure with its Baroque axis, probably created around 1740 under the supervision of Friedrich Caspar Reichsgraf von Gersdorf. The route then continues to later alterations in the spirit of a landscape contrived to merge with primal nature, also recalling the democratic notion of the public park which emerged in the 19th century. Such a park also exists nearby in Uhyst.

Until 1991, the park itself was not in fact generally accessible, initially on account of being the private garden of the lord of the manor, later due to the building´s use as a hospital. By the time it was reopened, the local population had forgotten all about it as a place for edifying walks - the paths most often used today ignore former hierarchic and artistic references, opting instead for a pragmatic and subversive shortcut. This is where Juliane Köhler´s bright red perspex markings come in: as well as sharpening our awareness of the majestic trees to which they are attached, they make other forgotten, overgrown elements appear in a new, charming light: the old botanical rarity of the panicled hydrangea, the hall-like vault of the treetops, the weather-beaten Baroque sculptures, a hidden water parterre with artificial islets.

But rather than losing itself in sentimental nostalgia, the project touches on current ecological issues, above all the ubiquitous legacy of opencast lignite mining at the Bärwalde mine between 1970 and 1992: according to local tradition, the park lies directly above a seam of coal and was only saved from the excavators by a clever manipulation with switched sample drillings. Admittedly, the lowering of the water table required for mining took its toll on the park and its trees. In this light, the delicate red word-capillaries can also be understood as an allusion to the way the life of these trees is endangered by human interventions. We are invited to follow all these levels of realization and discovery - along the path of Juliane Köhler´s "epiphyte" garden.




B i o g r a p h y

1974 born in Grimma/East Germany,

lives and works in Dresden and Tokyo, Japan

Diploma in painting/graphic art at Dresden Academy of Fine Arts in the class of Ulrike Grossarth

Masters degree at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm, Sweden

Master-class with Martin Honert
2003 Marion Ermer Prize
2005 Travel grant to China, Axelsson Jonsson Stipendiefond, Sweden
2007 Grant from the State of Saxony for Columbus, Ohio
seit 2003 Represented by Galerie Baer/ Raum für aktuelle Kunst, Dresden
  www.galerie-baer.de

 

Eden

planted a garden
and there he put the man

the tree of life in the midst
and the tree of knowledge of good and evil

(Genesis, 2, 8-10)

planted the purest of human pleasures
without which buildings and palaces
are but gross handy-works

(Francis Bacon, 1561-1626)

it is the freedom of trees that we long for
(Hermann Ludwig Heinrich Fürst von
Pückler-Muskau, 1785-1871)

for the friendly and sociable intercourse
of all classes in the bosom of beautiful nature

(Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell, 1750-1823;
note on the English Garden public park in Munich)

destroy the automatism of nature
(Gernot Böhme, "Für eine ökologische
Naturästhetik", 1999)

the park is full of coal
(Uhyst resident)


The perspex texts were made on the basis of handwritten versions by Uhyst residents.