In recent years, the world has been confronted with crises that have left no one indifferent. Beyond the devastation left behind by the COVID-19 pandemic, a widespread increase of urban temperatures attributed to anthropogenic climate change has also resulted in an overwhelming number of deaths. However, a recent study published in 2023 indicates that if cities extend tree coverage by 30%, maximum temperatures during summer heat waves could drop by up to half a degree Celsius. On a case by case basis this may seem like a miniscule endeavor, but if undertaken by a global community it could prove otherwise.
With an intention to underline the potential of this shared effort, Topotek 1’s proposal for the Bergamo Landscape Festival is a physical and figurative framework for collective action. The framework is elaborated on three levels: deconstruction, activation, and growing green. This replicable intervention was tested for the first time as a prototype at Milan’s Fuorisalone.
Aligned with the Bergamo Landscape Festival’s 2023 motto, the installation titled “Grow Together Grow Green” is a modular structure covered with seedlings of species that are typical to the region. These will initially green the location but will gradually dissipate as visitors register for seedlings to take with them to plant across the city. Registering forms a sense of responsibility, as registrants are called upon to take care of the seedling and to document the process via the event Instagram and website: from collection at the event to the final planting in one’s own garden or in the allocated Parco Nord Milan in collaboration with the parallel project “Forestami”. The outcome is an expansive intervention that can only be considered complete through collective and mindful participation.
The use of scaffolding – a lightweight and reusable system – constitutes a strategy for the installation’s primary structure which is not only easy to assemble and disassemble, but which can also be eventually repurposed in different locations. The invitation to take the seedlings home generates an enduring performance rather than just a temporary installation. As a vivid artistic space and at the same time a social tool, the project rethinks the way we relate to each other and influence our environment, emphasizing the potential of a communal process dependent on one’s individual actions: the possibility to grow together and grow green.
A juncture of the project is the screening of “Homo Urbanus”, a film series by the artists and filmmakers Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, who have been invited by Topotek 1 to further enrich the installation as a stage for gathering.