During the exhibition season of Dissident Gardens, Het Nieuwe Instituut hosts a monthly live radio programme that explores the Dutch garden as the key to translating between past and contemporary worlds.
In the Dutch cultural landscape, the garden has been carefully packaged as a centrepiece of national heritage and a tourist attraction, from the hortus botanicus to the private estate. In the context of Dissident Gardens, however, it is investigated as a framework for designing the modern world. Each episode of the Garden Broadcasts traces an unexpected path from a historical artefact of the Dutch Golden Age – a flower, spice, building or discovery – to a contemporary object that captures the complexity, speed and political tensions of the present day.
Topics that will be addressed include global trade, migration, postcolonial development, surveillance and genetic manipulation, traveling through sound from the Netherlands to Indonesia, Suriname, Turkey, South Africa and beyond. The Garden Broadcasts weave together interviews, performances, field recordings and music selections to animate garden history as a living phenomenon. As part of the Thursday Night Live! programme and in collaboration with online radio Ja Ja Ja Nee Nee Nee, visitors can take part as a live audience at the Garden Broadcasts recording studio in the exhibition or stream from further afield. Below more details of the programme. More information on speakers and exact titles will be added soon.
Speculative Value: From Tulips to Bitcoins
The first episode of the live radioshow, featuring Christel Schollaardt, Mario Minale, Livaneli Yildiran and Alexandre Humbert, will look at the creation of financial bubbles and the fluctuations in costs associated with objects, from tulips to bitcoins. It will examine how Dutch design substituted conceptual value for inherent material worth, transforming the market for design into a field of playful speculation on the meaning and circulation of things.
Halfway Points: From the Cape of Good Hope to Eternal Asylum
Episode 2 looks at the idea of acclimatisation of foreign species or people to new climates or cultures. By the late 17th century, the Dutch East India Company had pioneered a technique of transplanting species from colonies with tropical weather to the Netherlands, using the hortus in the Cape of Good Hope as an intermediary stopover in terms of both geography and climate. This episode will examine the halfway point as a critical site in the migration of not only plants but also objects and people. While halfway points are designed to enforce hierarchies of power and control, they also generate new and unforeseeable cultures and ecosystems, as instincts for survival and adaptation negotiate with interrupted narratives, endless bureaucracies, and borders both porous and impenetrable.
Guests include: Esther Helena Arens and Kiza Magendane
Midnight Florescence, Morning Fruition
On the summer solstice, episode 3 of the Garden Broadcast series is a two-part exploration into the long timeline of the Dutch colonial garden and its contemporary developments. The first half, Midnight Florescence, explores the imaginaries of Enlightenment-era writers and explorers about the unfamiliar yet beguiling territories they planned to conquer and exploit for their tropical climate and fertile ground, in particular the plants and spices unavailable in Europe. Returning guest artist Fabian Reichle animates this history using music and archival texts. The second half, Morning Fruition, invites contributions from contemporary artists and curators who are using sound to rewrite the narrative of territories formerly colonised by the Dutch East India Company. Featuring projects such as Heterotropics and Natural Capital, this section examines the conditions of sound media, digital technology, archival research, and artistic fieldwork in the confrontation between the idealised garden and the bittersweet yet dynamic reality of the contemporary postcolonial landscape.
The Unquiet Land: Landscapes of Violence, Longing, and Pleasure
Episode 4 focuses on the landscape of Suriname as an archive of spatial and architectural colonial heritage. Hosted by Het Nieuwe Instituut research fellows Sara Frikech and Daphne Bakker, this evening uses the format of a tasting dinner to weave together contributions across diverse fields of expertise, from ethnobotany to literature and philosophy. Each course in the dinner evokes a theme from the fellowship project, reading the landscape in Suriname specifically and the Caribbean more generally through the lenses of violence, longing, and pleasure. In the absence of a critical threshold of archival representation in either local or historical Dutch institutions, other forms of knowledge — from the personal narrative of the autodidact to the creative interpretation of the cook — will be investigated as ways of understanding the “unquiet” land.
The Life Fixation: From Aromatics to Ayahuasca
This episode looks at the relationship between botany, exploration, and the dual nature of preservation and immortality. The discovery of new plant species and other natural substances in the 17th century catalysed a period of intense medical curiosity and progress, as well as ethical realignment around the modification of the human body and intervention in human life. Today, while medical advancements have vastly improved the capacity for anatomical observation and disease prevention, there is also a countermovement that rejects mainstream medicine and genetic modification in favour of plant-based substances perceived as more natural, from organic food to spiritual therapy. The garden is thus approached as a site of playful experimentation in determining what it means to be human.