Forever Waste Depositing

Bettina KNAUP (Fellow) in conversation with Simone MÜLLER (researcher) and Anna ZETT (artist and writer)

Production shot of the video and installation series "Deponie" by Anna Zett. © Anna Zett

As part of her project common wastes, Bettina Knaup (Fellow) invites Simone M. Müller and Anna Zett to share their scientific and artistic perspectives on waste dumping and depositing and to interrogate the fiction of ‘disposal’ critically.

The first two parts of the event – lecture and screening – are hybrid. You can either participate in the presentation and workshop on-site at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen or follow the lecture and screening via Zoom and Facebook. The Zoom link will be sent after registering via Eventbrite. The subsequent discussion as well as the installation by Anna Zett are conceived exclusively for participants on site at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen.


Lecture (18.00 – 18.45)

Simone M. Müller: Wastestreams. Historical Perspectives on Disposal and Global Inequality
Waste is one of the most complex, contested, and charged objects we humans encounter in our daily lives. It contains narratives of decay and declension, pollution and toxicity, resurrection and recovery, and violence and inequality. Waste is ubiquitous – we cannot avoid coming into contact with it one way or another, no matter how hard we try to remove waste objects out of sight, bury and burn them, dispose of, discard or destroy them. Everything is waste and waste is everywhere.
In the age of mass consumption, ever-growing quantities of waste worldwide have inspired new (out)-sorting practices that closely align with human mechanisms of demarcation, exclusion and (environmental) racism. Based on a global patchwork of regulatory waste and disposal concepts, waste flows have aligned along global axes of national income, economic growth, political stability, or existing environmental legislation. Since the 1970s and 1980s in particular, an armada of ships loaded with garbage from the industrialized countries has set out south, often under legal premises. This contribution uncovers these global waste streams and ‘sorts’ them – culturally, ecologically and economically.


Screening and Installation (19.00 – 20.00)

Anna Zett: Altlastensanierung (Remediation)
HD Video 2021, 4:3, 39 min, German with English Subtitles

Remediation attends to the emotional remnants of the GDR, the symbolic cosmos of disposal, segregation, and decontamination. Anna Zett processes historical audio and video material from the Berlin Archive of the GDR Opposition and combines it with their own recordings, including a tour through the practically irreparable landfills of the former chemical industry in Bitterfeld-Wolfen. Rhythmically and emotionally structured by sound recordings from a 1986 poetry evening in East Berlin, the film focuses on damaged forms of contact between people and the environment in the late GDR and asks how toxic legacies are dealt with today. Recordings of the hunger strike at the Stasi headquarters in Berlin-Lichtenberg during its second occupation in September 1990 open up a brave space of resonance and turn the task of remembering the difficult heritage of the GDR also into a joyful experience.

Anna Zett: Endarchiv
Video 2019, 16:9, 18’21”

A pile of pebble gravel of industrial dimensions serves as a surface for a writing performance. A person sprays “Dear environment” in red letters onto a heap of gravel, apparently in the hope that verbal language would be a suitable medium to contact the ecosystem. “Dear environment, there is something left over.” The performance is interwoven with footage of a spontaneous action by artists painting and writing onto the East side of the Berlin wall in November 1989, shortly after the border had opened. Stone is not always a solid ground, writing is not always a solid medium of memory.


Discussion: Open format for voices and ears (20.15 – 21.00)

Inspired by her participatory and collaborative project Postsocialist Group Improvisation, Anna Zett will lead an open format for voices and ears following the lecture and screening, giving all participants* the opportunity to share questions, knowledge, experiences, doubts and feelings with verbal and non-verbal means.

Bettina Knaup, freelance curator and writer (Berlin), has (co-)curated numerous international festivals, exhibitions and projects, including the International Festival of Contemporary Arts City of Women (Ljubljana, 2001–2004), performing proximities (Beursschouwburg, Brussels, 2008), performance platform. body affects (Sophiensaele, Berlin, 2012) and the archive and performance project re.act.feminism, which toured Europe from 2008 to 2013 (i.a. Akademie der Künste Berlin, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdańsk, Tallinn Art Hall) and has been re-launched in 2022 in the frame of Manifesta 14 in Pristina. She regularly publishes, teaches and collaborates with other artists* and curators*.

Simone M. Müller (D) is DFG Heisenberg Professor of Global Environmental History and Environmental Humanities at the University of Augsburg. From 2016 – 2023, she was project head of the Emmy Noether Research Group Hazardous Travels: Ghost Acres and the Global Waste Economy at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich. Together with her team of four, she investigated the structures and dynamics of international trade with hazardous waste since the 1970s.

Anna Zett (*1983 in Leipzig) is an artist and author. In her time-based, analytical, emotional, and often participatory work, she questions control systems and foregrounds play and dialogue to make space for new relations to emerge at sites of loss and damage. Her video works are shown in an international art contexts, including Serpentine Gallery London, Whitney Museum New York, and Berlinale Forum Expanded. In recent years, her search for feminist practices of world-making has focused on reactivating unconscious legacies of the GDR, resulting in the series Deponie and in the development of the participatory format Postsozialistische Gruppenimprovisation (Post-Socialist Group Improvisation). With the latter, a collaboration with performer/choreographer Hermann Heisig, she was a fellowship holder of the Berlin Artistic Research Grant Program in 2020–21. Her publications include two experimental radio plays for public radio and the literary text collection Artificial Gut Feeling (Divided Publishing, 2019).


Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen | Streaming via Zoom and Facebook

Registration for Zoom via Eventbrite