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Gardens of Now

Rainer Elstermann

144 pages
Distanz Verlag Gmbh Llc

Hauntingly Beautiful Gardens in Which Wild Nature Makes a Comeback

Humans have always felt primeval and “wild” nature to be omnipresent, abundant, nourishing, but also unpredictable and menacing. The manifest fallacy of the hostile wilderness gave rise to the proclamation of a 2nd nature, a philosophical concept that first emerged in ancient Greece in the fifth century BCE. If such fenced-in and isolated spaces of (useful) nature helped secure humanity's survival through agriculture and, later, served as settings for contemplation in the romantic parks of the baroque, their dominance in the built urban landscapes of the industrial age alienated man from nature. In response to the painful loss of a nature untouched by human intervention, postmodern garden artists dedicated themselves to tending to plant collections. Prairies, steppes, Alpine vegetation have largely vanished from nature, only to be recreated in today's gardens and parks—the era of 3rd nature is defined by this comeback of the primeval, raw, and wild.

Rainer Elstermann (b. Berlin, 1965; lives and works in Uckermark and Berlin) is a landscape architect, photographer, and critic. The gardens he creates are philosophical meditations on nature. He designs and stages landscapes that responds to people's yearning for a less fast-paced life by giving them back a piece of pristine nature. In his book Gardens of Now, he presents realized and planned projects featuring hauntingly beautiful contemporary gardens. Essays in cultural history and philosophy and singular photographic studies into the botany and horticulture of the twenty-first century round out the volume.