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 in urban temperatures attributed to anthropogenic climate change has also resulted in an overwhelming number of deaths. However, a study published in 2023 indicates that if cities extend tree coverage by 30%, peak temperatures during heat waves could be reduced by up to half a degree Celsius. On a case-by-case basis, this may seem like a minuscule endeavor, but climate change is perhaps even more of a social issue than it is scientific — it must be addressed through community participation and collective action.
Topotek 1’s proposal for the 2023 Landscape Festival in Bergamo, this year’s cultural capital of Italy, is, therefore, a physical and figurative framework for joint social efforts to demonstrate that, with incremental afforestation, there is potential for citizens to improve their shared urban climate. The installation builds upon the festival’s motto, “Grow Together”, by inviting participants to also “Grow Green.” To underscore this potential and to restore the sense of community and gathering partly lost during the pandemic, the intervention’s framework is elaborated on three levels: de-construction, activation, and growing green.
“Grow Together Grow Green” is built as a modular scaffolding structure and is covered with seedlings of species typical to the region. The use of scaffolding – a lightweight and reusable system – constitutes a strategy for the installation’s primary structure, which is easy to assemble and disassemble and has an almost indefinite life cycle that can be repurposed in different locations. The replicable installation was first exhibited as a prototype at Milan’s Fuorisalone.
Similarly temporal, the seedlings will initially green the location but gradually dissipate as visitors register to take with them for planting across the city. Registration establishes a sense of responsibility, as registrants are called upon to take care of the seedlings 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 elsewhere in the municipality. The invitation to take the seedlings home and the intervention’s replicability generate 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 how 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. The outcome is an expansive intervention that can only be considered complete through broad and mindful social participation.
A highlight during the event will be the screening of “Homo Urbanus”, a series of 10 films by the artists and filmmakers Beka & Lemoine, who have been invited by Topotek 1 to further encourage the purpose of the installation as a stage for community gatherings.
Grow Together Grow Green | Bergamo
In the scope of Landscape Festival 2023
Location: Bergamo, Italy