Co-curated by Yolanda Kaddu-Mulinwa and Nisha Merit, SOIL CONVERSATIONS is an exhibition that features artists such as Lungiswa Gqunta, Mia Thom, Io Makandal and MADEYOULOOK. Fittingly, the exhibition text is co-authored by Lindiwe Mngxitama, our former editor, whose strong tenure forms the foundation upon which Bubblegum Club rests.
The exhibition is an exploration of soil as more than mere earth beneath our feet. It explores the significance of soil as a catalyst for identity formation, excavation, historical preservation and political agency.
Beyond its physical properties, soil becomes a metaphorical terrain that invites us to delve into complex inquiries regarding our relationship with the natural world, the structures of power and the foundations of our existence. Soil embodies the intricate web of ecological interconnectedness that sustains life on our planet. It is a dynamic ecosystem teeming with microorganisms, minerals and organic matter, playing a pivotal role in the intricate dance of nutrient cycles and the support of diverse life forms.
However, in our modern age, soil is often either disregarded or commodified, its value reduced to mere economic considerations. A critical examination of soil prompts us to question the prevailing mindset that prioritises human interests above all else. It urges us to acknowledge the intrinsic worth of soil beyond its utilitarian functions, recognising it as a vital element of Earth’s intricate organic tapestry.
Soil, once seen as a common heritage, has become a contested territory, subject to ownership, exploitation and degradation. In exploring the intellectual dimensions of soil, we are confronted with the complexities of land tenure, environmental justice and the exploitation of resources. This inspires us to critically examine the power dynamics at play and challenge the prevailing narratives that perpetuate inequality and ecological destruction.
Soil opens up existential inquiries, which invite us to ponder the fundamental questions of being, as we recognise that our very existence is intimately tied to the cycles and processes that occur within the soil. It compels us to reflect on the delicate balance between human agency and the larger ecological systems that sustain us. By critically engaging with this seemingly mundane substance, we can reimagine our relationship with soil and foster a deeper appreciation for its intrinsic value within the broader context of our existence.
The SOIL CONVERSATIONS exhibition features diverse artists’ thought-provoking reflections on the meaning of soil. Lungiswa Gqunta’s series, Instigation in Waiting, examines materiality’s storytelling potential through digital prints on fabric and cotton thread. Natalie Paneng’s installation, Venus Finds Balance, speculates on identity and representation using digital textile prints. Mia Thom’s performance piece, A Decomposing Lullaby, uses the violin and voice to explore intimate connections in human and non-human structures.
Io Makandal’s Threshold Dissolve and This Too Shall Pass, challenge conventional notions of soil and invite contemplation on connectedness and growth. Gemma Shepherd and Rochelle Nembhard’s photographic series, The Soil Remembers, celebrates the powerful connection between the female body and the earth. Their collaborative film, Genesis, delves into the relationship between women and rocks as the origin of life.
With the mantra “soil is everything,” this exhibition investigates the intricate relationship between humanity and our environment, both in the digital realm and the tangible world. It takes us on a transcendent journey through time and space and challenges the notion of linearity, embracing the enigmatic apertures. SOIL CONVERSATIONS ventures into the realm of pluralism, exploring alternative narratives of the past and speculative futures that lead us into the unknown.
Land, history, spirituality and the corporeal form—both tangible and conceptual—are interwoven into the fabric of the artworks on show at SOIL CONVERSATIONS. The exhibition encourages viewers to reflect on interconnectedness and the multifaceted relationships between materiality, identity and the environment. It embraces the speculative as a definitive stance in the present, fostering a profound dialogue between ourselves and the world—both the internal and the external.
|Exhibition from May 27 until August 30, 2023|
Saturday, June 10, 5 pm
“How to serve a Mud Cake”: Performance by Helena Uambembe
Monday, June 12, 6 pm
Exhibition walkabout with the artists Silvia Noronha, Nnenna Onuoha, Natalie Paneng and Theresa Schubert as well as the curators.
Thursday, June 15, 6 pm
Conversation between Prof. Dr. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (HKW-Intendant) and the curators.
Saturday, July 1, 5 pm
Film screening and conversation with the artist duo MADEYOULOOK about the video work “Menagano”.
Saturday, July 15, 5 pm
“Forces in Soil” Ela Spalding: An atmospheric sound journey | concert | reading performance.
Saturday, July 22, 10 am – 1 pm
“Soil Play”: Artist Silvia Noronha invites children and adults to explore together the local soil of Neukölln.
Saturday, August 12 and Sunday 20, 10 am – 1.30 pm
KÊMI Atelier invites families and individuals to dye fabrics with local plants.
For more information, visit www.galerie-im-koernerpark.de
Galerie im Körnerpark
Schierker Str. 8
daily 10 am–8 pm