The World And The Flock

The World And The Flock speculates about the capacities of the famous Geneva sheep flock to change our perception of the city. Thus, the flock that roams the gardens of Jardin des Nations, the heart of so called International Geneva, becomes a connecting and form-making element. The project offers an alternative reading, beyond the dispersed, isolated and fenced estates of International Geneva. A narrative, that brings together three strangely interwoven Genevan stories: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the NSA conspiracy theory, the Family de Rothschild history. By doing so, the circulating flock becomes a spatial factor that is ordering social realtions through the (un)built. Seen, observed, monitored, the event unfolds its impact on multiple channels: from the physical to the digital. Thereby, the public space which nowadays is weakly articulated, scattered and isolated within the city of Geneva, becomes more connected and attractive to both locals and tourists and not only for members of International Geneva. Read more

Ingredients

Grass, fences, water, trees – everything the flock needs can be found on site. The only missing elements, were a barn and salt for the sheep to winter. The flock is kept on rotating pastures, called padocks. There it grazes for four days before moving on, rotating from land to land, using normal asphalt roads. In the course of one year, the flock visits the United Nations, the U.S. Mission, the Rothschild estate, and many others. Every last weekend of the month, the flock leaves the Jardin des Nations and moves into the city. This urban event reconnects the isolated Jardin des Nations with the city of Geneva which is itself a city of (dis)connected madows.

Frankenstein Myth

1816, the author Mary Shelley and her lover Percy join their friend Lord Byron at the shore of Lac Léman for a summer of love and alpine picnics. But the terrible weather forces them inside. The eruption of the volcano Tambora in Indonesia caused a global climate change that labelled 1816 “the year without summer.” Switzerland was the worst hit region in all of Europe, producing scenes of socio-ecological breakdown. Also in Geneva. Confronted to these frightful moments, they start to compose ghost stories and Mary Shelley’s famous creature is born, in “Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus.” These moments were not only a catalyst for the cultural-historical changes of the time, but also resonate in my project in relation to Frankensteining in architecture.

A significant example of the Frankenstein Effect – the human inability to destroy the monsters you created – is the secret drive of the US government to restructure the world’s communication systems. The Genevan U.S. Mission is located in the old-world center of private banks, at the intersection of EU and international fibre optics networks. In the same city where Mary Shelley’s creature run amok, we can observe how a surveillance network is being built that will eventually become independent and throw the life of its creators into chaos.

“The year without summer” not only forced people inside, also plants were environmental refugees. It caused an exceptional boost to Geneva’s glass house technology and the orchid breeding expertise of the Rothschild family. Strangely enough, the Paphiopedilum Rothschildianum – the rarest and most expensive orchid on earth – naturally only occurs on Mount Kinabalu on the island of Borneo, closely ties Geneva back to South-East Asia again.

However dispersed and isolated the fenced estates in the Jardin des Nations seem today, these stories present a possible continuation of entanglements. A flock of sheep connects the three strangely interweaved histories by circulating throughout the Jardin des Nations. Read less

Category
Thesis
Place
Geneva
Year
2020
Author(s)
Julian Wäckerlin
Team
Arno Brandlhuber, Olaf Grawert, Milica Topalovic, Philip Ursprung
Contributor(s)
Tamino Kuny, Lian Stähelin (Advisor), Sonja Flury as Julie Lou Dubreuilh (Voice), Elias Menzi (Hammered Dulcimer)
The World And The Flock