Buried Words

Urban/Land-Art Project, Berlin, June 2010-

"Hey, hier steht was!" – wachsende Wörter,
published in Prenzlberger Ansichten, August 2010

"Planting words" or creating an open text growing out of the earth.

This project started to take place at the public space of Berlin in June 2010. On different spots around the area of Prenzlauer Berg, I planted grass-seeds in form of letters (approx 25cm long) on free earth surfaces. In this way, I formed words that stayed buried in the earth for the first 8-9 days.

During that initial period, the only traces of the planted words were those that the daily watering was leaving on earth (I was watering following the shape of the letters). On the 9th day they started to grow slowly: almost invisible pieces of grass appeared out of the earth.

Every day, ever since, a surprise waited me and the people passing by: The text was appearing slowly out of the earth; what at first looked vague was becoming progressively concrete, the thing that seemed to be at a first glance a spontaneous vegetation was getting a more precise form, somewhere between Nature and Artifact. After two weeks the grass-words were grown, standing discretely but perfectly shaped at different spots within walking distance.

There was an intense and playful interaction with the people since the very beginning of the whole process. Mostly children but also adults stopped to ask, to plant together with me some words, to help at the daily care of the grass-words by filling countless watering-cans at the closed public well, or to take pictures for the documentation of the project. My grass-words became a kind of communication-bridge between me and the people at the Square Arnswalder Platz (where most of my words had been planted) but also among different kind of people, as this quite big square happens to be the epitome of the borough’s gentrified identity, being the stage where old and new lifestyle patterns are being unfold.

During an event that I organized to present the project, I offered small packs with grass-seeds to the people around and I invited them to plant their own word at a place of their choice. In this way, my vision of a greater, without borders, open text growing out of the earth could come true.

The active participation of the public in this project has also been manifested in the initiative of neighbors to take care of the grass-words (by "adopting" for instance one) during my absence from the city in the two months that followed. A chain of new "parents" has been created for my grass-words and this kind of participation is probably the very essence of this project whose main character is the one of a long-open duration performance.

This project goes on as many people around the world are interested to plant their own word.

The buried body of the word is getting reborn, the hidden word inside the earth is getting revealed. The secret is revealed. The meaning is revealed. The earth is like a mouth: there are so many unspoken words inside it but some of them are crossing the “barriers of the teeth” as Homer said.