On the site of the former General Blumenthal Mine, New Zealand born artist Hayden Fowler (*1973) creates a poetic reflection on the dramatic and often invisible loss of species from the natural world. An aseptic tunnel leads from the abandoned Weißkaue (white changing room) of the colliery into a bygone world. Within the nurturing atmosphere of a large bio-dome a flourishing landscape opens up, incubating the seeds of around 100 plant species that have become extinct in the Ruhr Area since the rise of the industrialisation in the late 1800’s. From an immersive viewing platform, the audience can sit within this living memory-scape—a unique, sensory experience. Over the course of the exhibition, the vegetation is constantly changing as the returning plant species germinate, grow and thrive, temporarily reclaiming an industrial site that is symbolic of their demise.
Due to habitat loss through conversion to fields, rampant use of herbicides and insecticidesas well as other ecological effects of industrialisation and, in particular, the industrial agriculture, much of the Ruhr Area’s original flora has silently vanished over the past 130 years. By re-cultivating on damaged land, Fowler is in a sense making reparations to nature. In the midst of the abandoned surroundings of the colliery, the plant world within the dome evokes possibilities for the future. The title, Death of Worlds, is indicative of our dystopian present but the flourishing plant world offers opportunities for healing, restoration and a re-burgeoning of ecological and spiritual connection between humans and nature.
The installation Death of Worlds developed as part of the exhibition Ruhr Ding: Klima and was on display from May 22—June 27, 2021 in the colliery General Blumenthal in Recklinghausen.