462 APPLE TREES (proposal) —
Growing a Network & Edible Monument.
This long-term initiative transforms the historically charged and uprooted central square of Weimar (former Gauforum) into a living, fruit-producing meeting ground. Instead of pondering on the human tragedy leading up to this vacated monument of power (conceived in 1936) the project invites the the community to reactivate the location in the heart of Weimar by creating room for negotiation and self-organization.
YEAR ONE: The project launches on a October weekend in 2009 with an Tree Adoption Festival at the Gauforum where 462 seedlings await their nursing adopters. If the interest exceeds the number of trees, prospective adopters are put on a waiting list (replacing families that move away in the years to come). In return for the potted seedling the adopters agree to tend the tree for the years to come (instructions provided) and to meet every month with their steward. The young adopters will keep a record on their plants's growth and the tree visits in a personal Tree Journal from which selected entries are made available to the public (subsequent exhibitions). In the course of the following 12 months the children grow their seedling at home and have the option to collect and deliver kitchen scrap to help provide compost at the Gauforum. The families are invited to a bimonthly information session at the Gauforum to witness the preceding preparations (landscaping, drainage system, fertilizing) by experts. The adopters decide the planting spot for their tree and drive the stakes (needed to support the dwarf-rooted trees) into the ground.
YEAR TWO: In autumn 2010 takes place a weeklong Planting Festival where, with guidance from gardeners, the families plant, mulch and stake the trees (at least two different apple tree varieties, planted at 3.5 meters apart). From this point on the steward and children (families) meet at least monthly at the planting ground to observe, irrigate, mulch etc. While the trees start rooting, professionals (gardeners, bee keepers, botanists) offer workshops on apple trees, irrigation, sustainable fertilizer, biodynamic disease control, pruning, cross-pollination, bumble-bees, etc. which are open to the public.
YEAR THREE: In autumn 2011 the Lamp Festival celebrates the arrival of 116 lamp posts to the apple grove. The lambs are inscribed with the names of people forcefully relocated in 1936 (on the bottom part) and of the tree adopters (on the top part). Besides illumination at night the lamp posts link the present with the past. With assistance from steward and school teachers the young tree adopters research the stories behind the inscriptions on their own. Monthly tree visits and ongoing workshops keep the participants connected to their growing tree.
YEAR FOUR (+THEREAFTER): By autumn 2012 the trees should produce their first apples, celebrated in the Apple Harvest Festival. This creates opportunities around sharing, cooking, preserving and storing of apples. From this point 462 APPLE TREES is a platform for many spin-off activities where different social groups and interests can meet. As the three adopters grow up and out of the program they need to introduce new caretakers. When a tree dies (life expectancy is about 30 years) it is replaced and the new plant starts its journey again at a home stay with a tree adopter.
Apple grove (64m x 86m, 5504 m2) with 462 small growing trees (dwarf rootstocks, e.g. Malus) that grow about 3 meter tall (w=18 trees, L=26 trees, circumference 3.5 m/tree). Associated 116 lamp posts with name inscriptions of 1650 relocated persons and 462 adopters. Tree Journals with entries of adopters and collaborators.
The Imposed Relocation of 462 Families for the Construction of Weimar's Gauforum
Adolf Hitler's architectural redevelopment program radically converted Weimar's city center into a monumental representation of power called Gauforum (regional Nazi center), that consisted of a colossal parade ground and government buildings. The beginning of the construction of the Gauforum in Weimar occurred at the same time with that of the nearby Buchenwald Concentration Camp in summer 1936.
The project distroyed large parts of the northern city center as well as the Asbach green area that created the natural division between the medieval and classical part of the city. Moreover, the gigantic project forced 1650 people and 462 families (home units) to relocate and a total of 139 houses were demolished. Since its completion the Gauforum in Weimar is a manifestation of the dominant power structure which is revealed in the changing name and use of the central plaza:
1936: Adolf-Hitler-Square (parade ground for Wehrmacht)
1945: Karl-Marx-Square (HQ of Russian forces with Stalin monument)
1955: (Nameless) parking lot (civic center)
2005: Weimar Atrium (commercial center with shopping mall)
Momentarium creates situations where our very presence becomes the catalyst for shifting experiences we can integrate into our lives by fusing reality with co-created artifice.