Vegetation under Power

Heat! Breath! Growth!

The Kreismuseum Bitterfeld, Bitterfeld’s county museum, contains a black box with herbaria dating from 1931. This collection, compiled by botanist Hans Weber, is an inventory of the flora gathered in the nearby Goitzsche region, a forested area of floodplains. It was not long before the plant life collected here was forced to give way to society’s demand for brown coal.

Taking the herbaria as its starting point, ‘Vegetation under Power’ interweaves stories about Bitterfeld’s energy-defined landscape with the modern legacy of the Bauhaus. Using archival documents, physical interventions and field studies, the book proposes a new reading of the Bauhaus’s modernist motto ‘Light! Air! Sun!’ recast as to ‘Heat! Breath! Growth!’ The book thus points out the downside of resource extraction and environmental destruction in the clean modern age while also identifying movements in search of a nature-based culture characterised by care and stewardship.