Year of the Bog
This year, we feel the need to crawl deep into the damp earth. At a time when we cannot touch each other, are buried behind our screens, and distanced from the visceral and the elemental, Coven Berlin declares the Year of the bog. Think of Berlin’s wetlands, before it was farmed and drained, before anyone thought twice about founding a capital city on a swampland. We want to press our faces into the remaining wet depressions, such as the Sumpf of Hundekehlefenn or the Erlenbruchwälder of Müggelsee, and connect to the bog folk who store large hunks of butter in its dank silty matter and burn a sweet-scented smoke with its peat. Beyond the marshes beneath our feet, we live in the bog of the internet – that place that gives us fuel, preserves the past, where scary things are stored, and unexpected neighbors swim together. The virtual world of open-ended gatherings, networks of support in friction with an inhospitable world.
And so we sank into a Cyberbog. We’ll upload an ever-shifting soup of multimedia content and watch as it festers. Our online magazine is open for stinky submissions. We will host events throughout the year which, for access and safety reasons, as well as our own curiosities, will melt digital and IRL formats into each other. We want to anthropomorphize the unanthromorphizeable, the strange creatures who blossom in the moist, like frilled orchids, sphagnum, dung beetles, and carnivorous plants. Or maybe we want to de-anthropomorphize ourselves.
Compared to flowing waters, the bog is stagnant and viscous, reticent. While fluidity emphasizes total dissolution and infinite possibilities, viscosity draws attention to sites of resistance and opposition. The Bog is a sort of membrane between the forest and the wetland. A transition area, an open-ended gathering of living and dead matter. Bogs are queer ecosystems. Their cool and wet environment preserves many futures under a single slimy surface, without presumption of a seamlessly harmonious collaboration.
Because they are often small, rank, have blurred borders, and don’t meet the traditional definition of fertile, bogs’ role in the biosphere has been deemed trivial. They are fermentation pits for earth’s residue, including toxic runoff from capitalist extraction and urbanisation. Their skills sets, like preservation and decantation, are deemed less valuable than growth and production, and for that they are desecrated. But even if paved over, as a mushroom says in a Tumblr meme, “you cannot kill me in a way that matters.” Their metabolic changes happen over thousands of years – an unimaginable temporality, swallowing human history in a single burble. Bogs ‘make time’ for us, letting us make time for each other.
Our bog is an ode to the future, futures that can hold multiple kinds of life and spirit, without requirement, condition, sense, or logic, especially in dank and cold times. Reach out. Reach in. Get bogged down with us.
This is the year of the bog.
This project was conceived with the support of the Berlin Senate Zweijährige Basisförderung für Projekträume und –initiativen.
© Coven Berlin 2021