klasse für Alle
Klasse für Alle is a program of continuing education, created by the University of applied Arts Vienna to opening up their institutes and departments towards all who are interested in discussing, reflecting upon and re-enchanting* our world. The urgency of the current existential dangers requires collective action and dialogue. We invite people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds, from all professional fields, with or without previous education, and with a diverse range of skills and interests, to work with us on building a present and future worth living. At Klasse für Alle, we learn from and with each other, and with as little hierarchy as possible. Artists and other specialists (from both within and outside the university) will lead and accompany this learning. Mutual appreciation and respect form the basis for this cooperation.
* Silvia Federici, Re-enchanting the World, 2019
GARTEN FÜR ALLE
After an exploration of different aspects of REPAIR in the first year of Klasse für Alle, this year’s focus lies on the gardens for all: the garden as a public, communal space between “nature” and “culture” that holds immense possibilities for future survival. We want to learn with and from gardens.
In the winter semester of 2022/23, a variety of programs will take place to approach the gardens of our surroundings and their possibilities. In the summer we want to transform the collected ideas into projects.
The garden is a real space of gathering as well as a metaphoric one – as always, we will approach it with global, anti-colonial and queer-feminist ideas of care & repair.
We are learning and working with different green areas this year: the courtyard garden of the main building of the University of applied arts at Oskar-Kokoschka-Platz 2; the meadow at Oskar-Kokoschka-Platz – opposite the entrance to the Angewandte – which we take care of as a biodiversity space in cooperation with the 1st district; the courtyard in front of our studio at Heiligenkreuzerhof; and a field at Zukunftshof in the 10th district. Engaging with these (semi-)public spaces allows us to learn and consciously engage with every form of “nature” in the city that we encounter in interstitial spaces, wall cracks, traffic islands, and standoff greens. We learn with each other and with and from other species we encounter in these places.
Growing up in the countryside, my idea of a garden was a private space: under the open sky, but surrounded by hedges, secluded, welcoming visitors with a lawn and roses. And youthful boredom. Far more emotional is my memory of the cottage garden of my childhood. The see-through fence was only a protection to keep animals away. In my memory, it is a paradise – a miracle of lush blooms and coexistence (worms, insects, bees), smells, tastes – and a generous giving away of what was given by nature anyway. Tending my grandmother’s garden was her greatest joy. I became a city person because what I liked about public parks, whether in Vienna or New York, was that you could meet all kinds of people. Later with the child: In the park one always finds friends, is never alone.
In the pandemic it became clear: gardens are not for everyone. We were thrown back on privacy, those who owned property were lucky and had more right to fresh air than others, the green in the cities was temporarily blocked. Then the heat summers: those who can, flee the city, not all can, not all want to. The city is the center of life for many, and it should provide a good life.
It is a necessity to rethink the garden.
In our imagination, the garden is a social space: it and we will be fine only as long as we are respectful ¬ of each other and the non-human species. (We glimpse that cultural diversity and biodiversity might be related).
The garden is an emotional space in this clash. It is about our survival in an uncertain future. We are pushed to our limits – drought, floods, wars thwart human planning and desires – and must be resourceful to move forward. In the garden, nature and culture meet, order and chaos, visible and invisible systems: In understanding – and delighting in – how plants interact with insects, fungi, and microbes through invisible systems, new possibilities open up. An awareness of biodiversity, a desire for soil unsealing, for healthy greenery in the middle of our city is already grpwing. We need to make emphatic demands on politicians for swift and consistent action on a broad basis. At the same time, it is necessary to go into depth through personal experience: Expand our knowledge into the smallest details, change our relationships with the smallest insects, recognize the healing powers of plants, feel and smell their colors, therefore appreciate and protect them. We need to go out for sensual experiences.
The garden is a playground. Being in the garden feels good, gives pleasure. Gardening is an active dialogue with living material – thinking, feeling, practical doing go hand in hand.
Activity with simultaneous slowing down of time: We have to act now(!), at the same time patience and calmness are needed.
The garden is an empathic space with which we learn to be able to lead healthy relationships. We learn respect for the earth, for all our fellow inhabitants. It is also about aesthetics, but even more about the magic that is created in a conscious togetherness.
So back to politics, to collective action, to multiplicity. Some districts have more gardens, more trees, better air than others. Our gardens could be anywhere, on roofs, on walls, in cracks in walls, at street intersections, in spaced greens. We practice on the very smallest possibilities and learn to make demands for the large.
Our garden of longing is a garden for everyone.
(Andrea Lumplecker, August 2022)