Under the grass the cry of war can still be heard

An art project digs into the history of the city and finds in the rubble the threads that bind the present to the past.

Findings from the excavations in the rubble mountain of the Fritz-Schloss-Park in Moabit.  Salvaged from the Urban Mining Moabit art project

Findings from the excavations in the rubble mountain of the Fritz-Schloss-Park in Moabit. Salvaged from the Urban Mining Moabit art projectsoilprobes.org

The past is not gone, it lies largely undigested and quite well protected under a turf that covers it like a thin skin. The toboggan mountains in the Fritz-Schloß-Park in Moabit have a million cubic meters of rubble in their stomachs. You can walk there, lie in the spring sun, play tennis and go sledding in winter. The stones were collected from the surrounding ruins after the bombing raids in World War II, placed on the ground cover of a Wehrmacht barracks complex and finally sprinkled with a layer of topsoil.

Shallow-rooted robinias, poplars, maples and the local Berlin scrub mixture do best with such conditions. Common grasses and pistils push their roots, mushrooms their mycelium between the bricks, tiles, flagstones, broken glass. Worms, insects, snails and microbes metabolize organic material, allow excretions to seep into the caverns, water penetrates the capillaries, freezes, bursts open structures and allows components to be eroded into building materials. This takes a while. By the time all traces have been destroyed, humanity will long since be extinct.

The slow breath of time

The interdisciplinary free project “Urban Mining Moabit” – artistically directed by the dramaturge Uwe Gössel – wants to eavesdrop on the breath of time, which is actually much too slow for human perception, and after a concrete excavation sends a metaphorical probe into the interior of the mountain, which penetrates the seam layers of the past, collects information and spreads associations.

In the small project room “Kurt Kurt”, located in the house where Kurt Tucholsky was born, an exhibition was opened on Friday with an impulse from Adrienne Göhler and unobtrusive performative interventions, which is sorted similarly to the mesentery in the mountain. Coincidence has led the pen in the layering, objects initiate a narrative, the trains of thought branch out, break off abruptly, find their motivic continuation elsewhere and never come to an end.

A collage of postcards (detail)

A collage of postcards (detail)soilprobes.org

There is map material that flashes the movement of the city, shows the tearing and scarring of wounds. Rusted door hardware, a beer bottle melted in the heat of the firestorm, stove tiles whose glaze gleams as if they had just been fired are presented like unearthed fossils or prehistoric treasures – and that’s what they are: testimonies and remains of stories that begin to condense into myths, to transfigure and to riddle.

Ingrid Thorius, over 90 years old, sits in front of the project room and tells us that she grew up on Lehrter Straße and bathed in the bomb craters with her boyfriend Keule. She enjoys the attention and seems to be aware of her contemporary witness, her ancestors saw the Guard Uhlans on their horses and she knows what it’s like to sit in the basement while the city burns above you. Her thoughts also go to Ukraine, where the rockets are falling and people are forced to live underground, while above their homes are reduced to ruins in the maelstrom of war. You can still hear him chewing, you can hear his scream when you walk through Fritz-Schloss-Park, when you walk through Berlin.

Urban Mining Moabit – Soil samples mountains of rubble. May 6, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. exhibition and film, 8 p.m. performative intervention, May 7, 4 to 7 p.m. exhibition and film, location: Projektraum Kurt-Kurt, Lübecker Str. 13, further information at www.bodenproben.org

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