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SYNAPSE Workshop 2015 | June 30 – July 4, 2015

Invisible twinning

Curator: Francesca Mila Nemni
Artists: Giulia Giannola, Gayle Chong Kwan

Berlin is currently twinned with 17 cities, mostly other capitals, expressing Berlin’s perception of its alignments and what is sees as its equivalents. However, looking at the more unseen connections and “lines of energy,” this project focuses on unofficial twinnings, the countries and cities Berlin has a closer relationship to but prefers remain more invisible – the twinnings that reflect Berlin’s current immigrant population.

At present the largest groups of foreign nationals in Berlin are those from Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Italy, Russia, the US, France, Vietnam, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the UK. The city additionally has a large Arab community, mostly from Palestine and Iraq.

Looking in detail at Berlin’s allotment system for garden plots, the project intended to develop an area of land where 17 immigrants of different nationalities, representing the percentages of the immigrant population in Berlin, could cultivate their own foodstuffs. The project initially approached the Landesverband Berlin der Gartenfreunde to rent a plot of land where this mixed group of people would be able to cultivate their own food together, share their resources and knowledge, and also learn about the “kga” (Kleingartenanlage/community garden plots) through interacting with the German plot holders.

The Landesverband Berlin der Gartenfreunde did not provide land for the project, and what became interesting was the way in which our attempts at involvement with the official kga mirrored the experience of many immigrants who remain invisible or unable to access Berlin’s more official places of support and its organizations and institutions.

We started working with immigrants in their own homes and in the community gardens where they have been allowed to cultivate – documenting the plants, herbs and vegetables that they grow, exploring the relationships between these grown elements and the ideas of health in their cultures, as well as recording stories or tales associated with them, relating these to their experience of being in Berlin. Alongside this, we continued to work with both German plot holders from the Landesverband Berlin der Gartenfreunde and with holders from intercultural gardens, learning about their ideas of allocating land, about sharing resources and the plants, food and herbs that they grow for health, and also about what “health” means to them.

All of the materials collected throughout the project will be brought together and documented in a limited-edition publication. The project will culminate in a celebratory meal that references, but also alters, the format of official state banquets – an official unofficial meal highlighting and celebrating the countries and communities that are more closely twinned or connected to Berlin and Germany than the official twinnings acknowledge.

Actual Logs

Book Launch

02.09.11 | CURATOR: Francesca Mila Nemni

We are delighted to announce the release of our book Invisible Twinning. Book Launch: Tueday, 6 September, 6:30 pm at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Café Global. The curator and artists will be present. Published by The Green Box Book…


Invisible Twinning @ 48 Stunden Neukölln

01.06.11 | CURATOR: Francesca Mila Nemni

48 Stunden Neukölln Sat June 18, 2-8pm Sun, June 19 12-6pm An installation as part of the ‘Invisible Twinning’ project, which explores different garden projects (community, intercultural, allotment) that mirror the multicultural existence and experience in Berlin. The installation includes…


Artist Gayle Chong Kwan at Venice Biennale

09.05.11 | CURATOR: editor

Palazzo Zenobio Fondamenta del Soccorso, Dorsoduro 2596 Venice, Italy Opening Times: Tuesday–Sunday, 10.00h–18.00h Press and Previews: Wednesday 1, Thursday 2, Friday 3 June 2011 Press & Arts Professionals Launch: Friday 3 June 2011, 18:00h–22:00h ArtSway, the innovative contemporary art gallery…


Klaus Trappmann about POG

12.04.11 | CURATOR: Francesca Mila Nemni

In Berlin every community garden plot or “garden colony” has its own history and each one of them is different. This one has a very ancient history, as it was created during the war by several railway workers. In 1964,…