Madhavi Gore

As an artist-in-residence at the Lichtenberg Studios from August 6th to September 3rd 2023, I was thrown into a side of Berlin, and exposed to a part of the city, which I did not know existed. I was familiar with the city. Moving through Lichtenberg highlighted for me a whole new relationship to the city, as I reflected on the keywords ‘solitary encounters’, or, ‘fragile intimacies’ inspired by my recent research: 

1-a podcast, (‘Spaces of Solitude’, published by the Queen Mary University, UK)

2-a novel, (by Katie Kitamura titled Intimacies where the author looks at her relationship to work and to the various characters in the book).

3-The telephone booth in Tuchollaplatz, which has been converted into a mini art display gallery, (from the times of the Reich).

4-Two museum exhibitions I saw in Berlin, one about ecology, (‘Time to Listen’ at the Akademie der Kunst), and the other related to de-colonisation (at the Houses of World Cultures), which stayed with me in my thoughts and inspired my process of working.

The luxury of commuting by a highly developed public transport system, feeling safe in a large first-world urban center of the world, while inhibiting its diverse millues, as a resident for a month, further inspired me.The running theme of the residency for me, became the experience of solitude amongst people and to consider urban ecology and geography in a first world city, to add layers and new perspectives to my work as an artist. 

My days were extremely productive, immersive, and provocative. Away from home ground, I was immersed in thoughts and actions that were related to making art in public space and locating myself in the district of Lichtenberg, Berlin, as the context. While my days were spent in the district of Lichtenberg, I would engage with other neighborhoods in the evening. I felt lucky to have a few good old friends who are Berliners.

I used a very rudimentary process of drawing, mark-making, record-making, mapping, cartography, to expose the cracks and fissures in the logic and narrative of progress and development. immigrants, migrants and refugees, are the texture and fabric of the city; conflicting states of being and identity, belonging and longing. I spent my days in the parks, making rubbings of tree barks, making drawings in plain air, using found sticks and objects as drawing tools, making collections and little assemblages, enjoying summer sun picnics, and observing the reactions of passers by who chanced upon me making these records of my time. These collections of rubbings have become a vital record, a map, and a tracing. The tenderness of touching or hugging trees, and making impressions of the textures on the bark surface, was experienced as an encounter with the surface, exposing the scars and marks of time.

Berlin for me always represented the best of urban citizenship with care given to public life and public spaces. The citizens of the City and visitors alike enjoy green space and states of solitude as well as spaces for community gathering. I observed, every park in Lichtenberg or Berlin has a playground, a trash bin, a natural or man-made water body, a historical monument, a book exchange booth, and clean public restrooms.

My time in the Lichtenberg Residency allowed me to explore urban ecology. Recording my time by making tracings and rubbings of trees in parks, and drawing what I observed, was my response to transforming terror into tenderness, joy, care and peace.

December, 2023