LEARNING TO LIVE WITH FOREST (AGAIN)
Learning to live with forest (again) is a research project that investigates peoples relationship with their small forests through the lens of personal taskscapes*. The project is a narrative about the activities that constitute and shape this relationship.
The research is informed by both personal research in the forest of Anna's family, as well as the documentation of other 'personal forests' and their owners tasks.
Supported by Stimuleringsfonds voor de Creatieve Industrie,
september 2019 - november 2020.
* 'the taskscape' is a concept by Tim Ingold further expanded in "The temporality of the Landscape' (1993)
Text by Viveka van de Vliet
Austrian landscape architect Anna Fink investigates life patterns in specific landscapes and how they continually interact. She wants to unravel and strengthen this relationship, which she calls 'topographic living'. Fink does this by giving new meaning to the everyday location-bound customs and cultural actions with which we form the landscape.
Her new venture 'Learning to live with forest (again) follows on from her graduation project 'Landscape as house'. It takes us to Austria where, together with her family she owns part of a forest. Through active fieldwork, she examines the personal actions and activities essential for shaping the landscape and preserving the vitality of a place. How do we shape such a plot? What informs the choice of maintenance, planting or harvesting trees or letting the forest take its course?
Fink asks herself these questions, just as forest rangers or other owners of forestland.
'My goal is not to judge. I want to ask questions, overturn assumptions, to initiate dialogue regarding the different ways of interacting with the environment, how one defines nature, and what it means to live in a landscape. This is different from walking or cycling through the landscape because then you only consume. You limit the meaning of nature to something distant; to a concept.'
Given her need to research and develop a method, the past year seemed like the perfect time to set up her interdisciplinary design and research studio. It is aptly named Atelier Fischbach, after the place where Fink grew up. She also initiated a summer school in Austria. For the workshop 'Im Fluss' she works with Dutch designers and local craftsmen. In a riverbed, they build 'topographic furniture': subtle and transient interventions in the landscape that temporarily shape or mark their presence. The oven builder does not make an iconic wood-burning oven like everyone in the region, rather an outdoor furnace that disappears at high water. The loam builder's stamp-loam floor dissolves into nothing after a few rain showers. 'The physical work and our constant presence at the river create a connection with the place. There is room for dialogue from a shared experience of “embodied knowledge”.' Fink documents her research through photography, a film and a series of small books.