alexandra regan toland

research narratives in artistic ecology

Gallery of Weeds

The informal use of Berlin’s Anhalter Bahnhof since the opening of the Berlin Wall constituted a unique example of wild urban green space appropriation ­– an inner-city oasis for dog owners, nature lovers, sporty types, children and petty criminals. Since the end of WWII, fields of tansies, wild carrot and sweet clover invaded the vast patchwork of cobblestones and crumbling railroad tracks now known as the Gleisdreieck. Before the open lot was redesigned into a new city park (minus most of the wilderness) as part of a zoning plan that declared the area a mitigation space for the Potsdamer Platz construction, a plea for urban biodiversity was made by local citizen groups, churches, schools and ecologists. It is yet to be proven if biodiversity has indeed decreased since the opening of the new park. As a response to local pressures to preserve wilderness, the landscape architects included several eco-zones to develop multiple habitats for flora and fauna.

Project Site and Duration

Gleisdreieck Berlin, Germany, 2006 – 2008

Materials and Methods

The gallery of weeds was an installation of 100 weather-laminated photographic portraits of urban weeds found at the old abandoned train depot “Gleisdreieck” in Berlin. The signs provided scientific and cultural information such as the origins, flowering times, dispersal mechanisms and medicinal uses. Photos of the weeds were framed in gaudy gold to symbolize the value we place on objects such as artworks or family portraits but not necessarily on dandelions, soapworts or ragweeds. The botanical names of the plant species were translated into 6 languages (German, English, French, Polish, Bosnian, Turkish) to emphasize the cultural and biological diversity of the location. The signs were mounted on moveable cement bases, as many of the species were annuals and had to be located again each year. I provided guided tours of the installation during the Long Day of Urban Nature and other opportunities related to the development of the Park at Gleisdreieck. When the park construction was begun in 2008, the signs moved to the Rosenduft Intercultural Garden and to Ben Wagin’s atelier on the Gleisdreieck as well as his memorial garden “the Parliament of Trees” in the governmental district. The project was kindly supported by the local citizens Initiative Gleisdreieck and the Stiftung Naturschutz Berlin.


This entry was posted on June 10, 2006 by .
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