alexandra regan toland

research narratives in artistic ecology

Wishgarden – Flooded Treasure

The love affair between the city and its watershed is an eternal relationship of loss and gain.

Days before I began the short residency at the MOTA Museum of Transitory Art in Ljubljana, the Gradaščica River flooded entire districts of the city. I scrapped my original plans to create an urban gardening project and focused on the watery circumstances at hand. In cities across Europe, 2010 was a year of massive flooding. Just days after the catastrophic flood in Ljubljana questions rose as the water receded: what treasures were held in the original watershed (the Lubljanica is a fabled river for treasure hunters)? what relationships of exchange, loss and gain exist along the river? and how can architecture and urban planning respond to new demands of global warming along narrowed waterways?

Project Site and Duration

Cobbler’s Bridge (Šuštarski Most); Jakopič Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia September 2010

Project Partners / Collaborators

Ana Malalan, abs. Fakultete za Arhitekturo Ljubljana, MOTA Museum of Transitory Art Ljubljana

Materials and Methods

The Wishgarden – Flooded Harvest was an exploration of the city’s hydrological history, interpreted as a garden of trial and error. During the project, we made river walks, exchanged ideas from different backgrounds, and discussed tools for short and long-term flood relief as well as architectural adaptations for a changing climate.

In an act of performative cartography we created a map of the prehistoric waterways on the Cobbler’s Bridge (Šuštarski Most) using river sediment from the flooded Gradaščica River. Throughout the day passing pedestrians and cyclists wore down the mud drawing as the original landscape had been worn down and reformed over centuries.

In another act of appropriation, a common tourist map was handed out on the bridge with the same stenciled image of the original waterways. Ancient topographical features were overlaid as a new graphical layer. A legend of alternative catchments and urban adaptations were listed instead of typical sightseeing attractions such as churches and museums. The map was distributed to pedestrians on the bridge and donations collected to benefit flood relief efforts (for multiple reasons this attempt wasn’t too successful).

A workshop with local university students and friends of MOTA served to generate initial ideas for the maps and the realization on the bridge. Participants were invited to contribute to the conceptualization and creation of the project. Documentation of the research along with symbolic objects found throughout the week were presented in a lecture and short media presentation at the Jakopič Gallery.


This entry was posted on September 19, 2010 by .
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