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Savoir-Vivre, Unpacking knowledges

Geranium Hydrolate Workshop

June 8, 2022, 6:00 PM—8:00 PM

with Helga Seeber, botanist
at ar/ge kunst, via museo 29, Bolzano
curated by Simone Mair and Lisa Mazza (BAU)

June is the month when geraniums of all colours bloom on countless balconies all over the Alps. This very hardy plant reached Europe more than 400 years ago, following lengthy sea voyages from South Africa, and it has since become such an important part of Alpine culture that it’s impossible to imagine how the Alps would look without it. Nicknamed the “Brennend’ Liab” (Ardent Love), it features to this day in advertising and has been used also in wartime propaganda. In short, the plant is iconic, highly charged, and packed with hidden knowledge and stories.

For the tenth edition of savoir-vivre, we invite you to join us for the Geranium Hydrolate Workshop at ar/ge kunst. With botanist Helga Seeber, we will learn how to obtain hydrolytes and essential oils from professionally harvested geranium leaves by means of steam distillation. This is not the usual balcony geranium, which admittedly also serves to ward off the annoying flies and mosquitoes thanks to its own smell, but an old variety. What associations does the plant trigger in its various manifestations? While the bloom itself is for many a potent symbol of heimat, the distilled scent of the leaves gives rise to a myriad of sensations, thus unsettling our established knowledge of the plant, true to the aims of our theme: unpacking knowledges.

The Geranium Hydrolate Workshop is part of the savoir-vivre workshop series devised to reflect and resonate with the exhibition programme. Inspired by the co-founder of postcolonial theory, Ms. Gayatri Spivak, to reinterpret the terms “savoir/pouvoir” – French for “knowledge/power” as well as for “to know/ to be able” – we welcome the idea that knowledge can be associated not only with “power” but also with “ability”. Combining the two terms allows the art institution to be read as a negotiable sphere, where different abilities and competencies produce collective knowledge.

Helga Seeber, born 1972 in Bruneck, grew up in Gais. Studied biology (botany and phytochemistry) and parauniversity studies in “Tecniche erboristiche” (herbal techniques). Seeber is involved in various methods of herb production, grows herbs in the permaculture community garden in Guggenberg in Ulten and processes the wild herbs she collects herself. She is currently employed at the Department of Nature, Environmental Education, Province of Bolzano.

maximum 20 participants
attendance free
language: DEU/ITA
registration at [email protected]

A special thanks to Martina Schullian, Garden Centre Schullian, Bolzano