Mireficating the Present – Aesthetics & Narratives of Peatlands

Mires have been experiencing a wave of attention in recent years. Yet the dark mythologies surrounding them haven’t changed. This workshop explores potential new languages and narratives of a nonbinary landscape as a metaphor for the present.

Like many European metropolises, Berlin has mud in its name. In the Ancient Polabian of the Slavic indigenous peoples, "Birlin" simply means "swamp city" - a name that unites the solid and the liquid, nonbinary like the territory it refers to.

In 2015, only about 740 hectares of peat soil remained. Those areas shows what Berlin could look like if the mire landscape that bears this city's name had not disappeared to make way for a densely populated metropolis and thus invites participants to envision other possible imaginaries for this urban space.

Wetlands, especially mires, have been experiencing a wave of attention in recent years. They are no longer read as storage media only in archaeology: In addition to pollen analyses, which make it possible to reconstruct the climate via traces of the flora, and perfectly preserved bog bodies, there is now a growing awareness of peat's ability to store CO2 sustainably in large quantities.

But the work of paludiculture startups exploring the agricultural potential of peatlands, and of major environmental actors revitalizing threatened wetlands, does not yet reach into the vast preconscious repertoire of mythology associated with peatlands: places of doom and death and will-o'-the-wisps that lure lonely wanderers into treacherous mire in impenetrable mists.

How can these myths be rethought and expanded to include new narratives of the bog? In our workshop we want to find new stories, but also a new language of the mire. How can it sound, between viscous mire and energy potential of peat, between solid and liquid? In a time that is discovering the blurring of boundaries, the in-between, as a progressive mode, can a landscape of threshold provide a treasure trove of metaphors to help understand the present?



Day I, 10:00-18:00 | Intro & Input
Day II, 10:00-18:00 | Field Trip
Day III, 10:00-18:00 | Writing
Day IV, 10:00-18:00 | Writing & Recap


Equipment requirements:


Johanna Kirschbauer, M.A.

is a research assistant at the Berlin University of the Arts and researches biomimetics in humanities by disclosing the potential of clouds, water, swarms and mucus as aesthetic and functional models of the present. She studied media culture at Bauhaus University Weimar and GWK at Berlin University of the Arts. Her focus in research and teaching is on linking perspectives from different disciplines. She is co-editor of the book series Texturen (Logos Berlin).


Steffen Greiner, M.A.

is a freelance writer and lecturer at the Berlin University of Arts (GWK). He was editor in chief of “Die Epilog”, a magazine for contemporary culture, his texts are published in ZEIT, Spiegel, Deutschlandfunk Kultur etc.. As an author, he is working in the liminal spaces between literature and science, history and nature writing. His latest works include the radio essay “Der deutsche Wald. Eine Ausbeutung” (SWR2, 2023) and monograph “Die Diktatur der Wahrheit” on the historical background of the Querdenken mindset (Tropen, 2022).

Run period:
19.08.2024 – 22.08.2024
Course time:
10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Application Deadline:

Course fee:
EUR 565

Min. number of participants:
Max. number of participants: