9 April - 13 june 2021, at Bärenzwinger Berlin. Double exhibition with works by Nadja Abt and Barbara Marcel and curated by Isabel Jäger, Katja Kynast, Malte Pieper, Maja Smoszna.

The double exhibition »Birds and Buoys«, with works by Nadja Abt and Barbara Marcel, brings two complex and long-standing artistic strands of research together and deals with transatlantic labour and the cultural history of shipping and mining from a feminist and queer perspective. Together, the works reference the architecture and history of the Bärenzwinger as well as its immediate neighborhood.

»Birds and Buoys« works visibly outwards, communicating acoustically and visually with the neighbourhood in a colourful, collectively designed reinterpretation of the Bärenzwinger’s structural shell. It also comments on its urban proximity to the historic harbour, the Brazilian Embassy and the Marinehaus (former clubhouse of the imperial navy). Inside, intimate and essayistic reflections reveal the transformative powers of "queering" nature, tight spaces dissolve into fantastical scenes and stories that were once hidden appear. “Birds” and “Buoys”, as named in the exhibition’s title, are distinguished by their ability to indicate something. The presence of the canary songbird, as Barbara Marcel's work addresses, is an indication of a toxic environment. Nadja Abt uses buoys as figures that rise to the surface and refuse to be pushed into the invisible. The homophonic terms buoy and boy can only be distinguished in writing; the verb “to buoy” also means to lift one's spirits, to be empathetic, to help someone. It is precisely such transgressions and “différances” that the exhibition works with, it is this kind of relating that it proposes: What can be learned and unlearned from landscapes ruined by mining? How can the violent history of seafaring be rewritten as feminist and utopian? How can we navigate, to paraphrase Ursula LeGuin, the "Port of Darkness"?

What can you do with a hole in a valley? Where can you wander when the earth no longer holds? Do the landscapes of non-cities and their seductive call to solitude remain compelling in times of urban disintegration? What might be learned and unlearned in the augmented topographies of such ruined landscapes? How to wander over and under such unsteady ground? Barbara Marcel’s project "Golden Tone" is derived from her research into the historic and cultural landscape of Harz, the western mountain region of Germany, where many of the mining technologies of mineral soil extraction were first developed and later exported across the world. The video installation reflects on the intersections of the past, present and future of this anthropogenic landscape through the particular history of the breeding, training and trading of canary birds in the region. In a video assemblage featuring hands and machines, silver and serinettes, contaminated heavy metal hills and falling spruce trees, touristic tours and intimate interviews, the iconic landscape of the German Harz gradually reveals its many hybrid layers, giving way to an open field of transformative sonic flights. “Golden Tone” is a film about the Harz Roller canary birds, the domestication of mines and the queering of nature.

The exhibition »Birds and Buoys« opens the annual Bricolage programme and with it a series of explorations into the less visible present and history of the Bärenzwinger. With bricolage we seek to dig deeper and reach further, to look at historical and contemporary constellations and to, upon loosening the glue, reassemble them. In falling in line with Donna Haraway, one could say that we are in the process of making new material-semiotic knots, just like the concrete maritime knotting techniques used in »Birds and Buoys«. Curated by Isabel Jäger, Katja Kynast, Malte Pieper, Maja Smoszna.

Further events
28.4. – Paz Guevara in conversation with Nadja Abt, Barbara Marcel, Katja Kynast (Online on Zoom)
2.5. – These Birds of Temptation. Book presentation with Barbara Marcel and K. Verlag (Open-Air)
20.5. – Guided tour through the neighbourhood of Bärenzwinger with Berlin Postkolonial e.V. / Dekoloniale (German)
27.5. – Wayfaring Strata. As We Move Along. Audio Walk choreographed by Sonia Fernández Pan with music by Stephen McEvoy
3.6. – Guided tour through the neighbourhood of the Bärenzwinger with Berlin Postkolonial e.V. / Dekoloniale (English)
13.6. – Birds 'n' Buoys Bloco. Finissage with, among others, Nadja Abt, Barbara Marcel and Tom Nóbrega

More details on the exhibition at:

Click here for more info on the book THESE BIRDS OF TEMPTATION

© 2021 Barbara Marcel