Maria Thereza Alves

Recipes for Survival
Seeing you

Wake: Reintroducing the Obliterated Flora of the Spree Riverbank , 2019

Site specific installation

Wake: Reintroducing the Obliterated Flora of the Spree Riverbank is an outcome of the research made in 2000 in developing Wake for Berlin. The city was at the time undergoing intensive urban renewal and Alves investigated the botanical history of 17 sites by studying the possibilities of the arrival of seeds by people, animals, wind, and any other accidents of history. After the historical research Alves met with Bernd Machatzi, a botanist and “Landesbeauftragter für Naturschutz und Landschaftspflege”, who was at that time along with other colleagues compiling Der Berliner Florenatlas. They visited some of the sites Alves investigated to corroborate the botanical evidences with the historical research of the site. As Alves walked with Machatzi, he explained that he had studied the banks of the Spree River just north of the Reichstag for his thesis and identified over 300 plants that from the riverbank vegetation of historical Berlin. After the wall fell and construction began, he met with representatives of the new government chancellery that was being built. He asked if they could respect that historical and special vegetation. They did not think it was important. One of these plants, Gratiola offinalis, had its last habitat there and Machatzi rescued a specimen to bring home so something would survive.

Flora selected from Machatzi’s thesis on the eradicated flora of the Spree Riverbank are growing in a garden of cement and rubble, Wake: Reintroducing the Obliterated Flora of the Spree Riverbank, on the grounds of Gropius Bau and will be returned to the city of Berlin at the end of the exhibition.

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