Maroš Krivý, “Tracing the Urban Pastoral in Tallinn: Leo Marx, Karl Marx, and Urban Political Aesthetics,” in M. Gandy and S. Jasper (Ed.), The Botanical City (Berlin: Jovis, forthcoming)

In the summer of 2013, eighty bulk bags filled with soil and plants transplanted from abandoned gardens were installed in the courtyard of the Contemporary Art Museum KUMU in Tallinn, Estonia. The installation was put on display as part of the exhibition Afterlives of Gardens, named after a similarly titled book by English landscape historian John Dixon Hunt. Unlike Hunt, who explores the use, rather than design, of gardens, the Tallinn exhibit turned to disused gardens as a form of unintentional design. There was a fantastic aspect to experiencing gardens as abandoned. What does the installation reveal about the ambiguities of urban nature in the post-socialist Baltic region? If the post-industrial trope of rewilding cities has become ubiquitous, then what of rewilding formerly cultivated urban nature? What forms of urban political economy are normalized by the botanical imagination centred on abandoned gardens?
Figure 4: Katrin Koov, Maria Pukk and Ivar Lubjak, Pineapple or Artichoke? (2013). A mix of common cultivars, meadow plants and ruderal species, including dense-flowered mullein (Verbascum densiflorum) and invasive japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica). Photograph by Katrin Koov.