Skip to main content

ORIENTATION AS GARDENING – Non-anthropocentric models about subjectivity, responsibility and the care of the self

Project leaders:
Almut Rink and Carola Platzek (IBK)

Funded by:
FWF - Austrian Science Fund | PEEK (AR325)


FWF | PEEK project
led by Almut Rink and Carola Platzek, Institute for Fine Arts
Duration: 1.4.2015 – 30.9.2017

How can one understand orientation at the beginning of the 21st century? ORIENTATION AS GARDENING considers the term of orientation more as a transformative process than as a fixed construct. Recently, Western notion of the subject has met a challenge: Occidental-western subject understanding is supposed to be modified, especially in its regard to its categorical self-understanding. Multifaceted approaches for alternative subject constellations, sustainable compositional systems have been developed, which primarily understand sustainability as an ethical concept. ORIENTATION AS GARDENING joins this endeavor for the generation of knowledge plus self-examination.

With an extended term of experience, orienting itself methodically along a "phenomenology of experience", our project links transhistorical, intercultural and artistic entanglements. Asian thought has elaborated fundamental philosophies of experience; these approaches are confronted with the antique meaning of the "care of the self" and contemporary non-anthropocentric theories.

The concept of materiality is here no longer understood as that which stands counter to the subject. We side this intercultural reading with three applied historical systems of composition:  The "Sakuteiki", a Japanese gardening manual from the 11th century, The Garden of Epicurus from the 3rd century BC, and the art-philosophy of Chinese painter Shitao from the 17th century.

The Assemblage Board, developed in the project, translates, while also orienting itself upon, the ideas of the systems of composition, their spatial mediation and demands into a "now". The Board is an abstract garden, in which garden is seen in an extended sense from human systems of composition. It links the basic Asian concept of mutual relativity and gradual space-designation of actions with contemporary performative and architectural practices. The Assemblage Board - a garden, a stage, a storage - will be set up and operate in Vienna, London, and Tokyo.