In the course of the summer (2007) the Public Picnic project developed with the help of neighbours, friends and people passing by. A plot in Nørrebro, Copenhagen was temporarily appropriated and turned into a public garden and a hub for a series of public events.
The plot had been hidden behind a fence for years but showed to be quite remarkable; wild berries en mass, apple trees, weeds high enough for a full grown person to disappear into and overall a vast diversity of plants.
The early allotment gardens in Denmark were connected to the workers movement and thus had a political component. Many workers got access to a plot of land away from overpopulated cities and small apartments. Access to land was especially 100 years ago a deeply democratic spatial project, as well as about having places for leisure and retreat from working life. Today it is harder to spot the project in the allotments and it seems there is a need to define what are the spatial rights worth fighting for now?
An attempted answer could be that we need spaces free from the omnipresent regime of disciplining by media and commerce and institutions telling us how to live our lives, how to look, act and feel. Places where the collective is possible, where there is no division between production and play, between pleasure and politics; places for the life-world.
The Public Picnic project was motivated in wanting to act and think on how gardens can have a renewed relevance in urban life and politics. While gardens often are private retreats we wanted this to be a public space for pleasure and production. We trampled some new paths in the weed to open it up. Rosa Marie Frang shouted out the news that television wants us to believe is reality mocking the fiction and creating a new one. Media reality is a farce, and we refuse to reduce our thinking. Shaking the earth in series of events to make geographies or moments where opposites normally fixed can meet, exchange and in the process transform us and the categories themselves.
This is the spaces we want, spaces in out neighbourhood where we can meet, organize and express ourselves in informal ways. It is a modest demand: inclusive spaces free of commercials, self organized urban free spaces where we live, everywhere.
For the Garage festival 09 Free Soil have conducted a site specific research project investigating the environment of the Baltic Sea.
We created an alternative archive of political and historical events that have occurred in the Baltic Sea region, especially Stralsund and linked these with the sea’s responses. The impact of Industrialisation, population growth and political changes has resulted in climatic and environmental changes recorded in the sea. Nature retaliates by creating new forms, one of the most significant being the spread and growth of toxic Blue Green Algae or “phytoplankton”
Images: wooden sewerage pipe from Stralsund. &
Portrait of William Lindley the designer of the first sewerage system in Stralsund, algae on paper.