A Seminar by Elena Bougleux, Arno Brandlhuber and Erle C. Ellis with Tobias Hönig and Natalie Jeremijenko
Anthropogenic Landscapes ground us in the Anthropocene by connecting us with the land and the ecologies we shape, inhabit, and make use of, as they stress how intimately we are creating the planet that is recursively creating us. A flash fieldwork trip to the former VEB Elektrokohle (People’s Enterprise Electro-coal) in Berlin-Lichtenberg helped us to observe, study, and reshape the shift from the larger context down to the local.
Can the Anthropocene be experienced directly, in the real world, on the ground? Human transformation of the Earth is simultaneously global and local, immediate and geological, fundamentally real and absolutely abstract, intimately personal and completely collective. Within the framework of the Anthropocene, somehow, everything is connected in both human time and geological time.
The Anthropocene considers anthropogenic landscapes as outcomes of deep time processes, but also as archaeological sites, habitats to conserve for endangered species, designed spaces, up-and-coming neighborhoods, brownfields, artworks, social networks, problems to be solved—a list that continues to grow.
In this seminar, we investigated the site of the former VEB Elektrokohle (People’s Enterprise Electro-coal) in Berlin-Lichtenberg — today a highly contaminated site, mainly characterized by, among other enterprises, the “Dong Xuan Center,” a conglomerate of shops, restaurants, and places of cultural practices, mostly belonging to the numerous Berlin-based Vietnamese community. The aim of this case study was to explore the site’s meaning to both large and small scales of time and space, by connecting these with the action of local actors and local communities. People embody, and reflect in the space they inhabit, the social and economic changes occurring in the larger context. Through case-study analysis we aimed to foster the development of specific conceptual and practical tools; we aimed to experience the anthropocenic dimensions performed by the communities through the landscapes we observe on the ground, within our mind, and through our cultures.
© Anthropocene Curriculum