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During their stay in Berlin in 1988,
pioneers of ecological art Helen Mayer
Harrison and Newton Harrison put forward
a proposal for a memorial linking
ecology with the culture of memory,
based on the topography of terror site.
The concept envisioned gently intervening
in the state of the site at the time,
which functioned from 1933 to 1945 as
the headquarters for the Gestapo, a secret
Gestapo prison, the SS leadership
and other institutions directly involved
in the planning and implementation of
National Socialist terror. The proposal
incorporated the existing Topography
of Terror exhibition—conceived on the
occasion of Berlin’s 750th anniversary
as well as the exhibition Berlin Berlin at
Martin-Gropius-Bau—and envisioned
integrating the debris piles accumulated
there since the war. The work
proposed allowing existing “debris
flora”—plant life growing out of bomb
holes and debris—to spread and be
simultaneously cultivated in such a way
that the image of freshly sprouting new
growth is always preserved.

In a lecture Newton Harrison will speak about the Trümmerflora proposal for the Topography of Terror of 1988 and how work on this project influenced more recent works of the artist couple.


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