Across the humanities and in the performative arts the experiment — commonly associated with the empirical sciences — is gaining ground. These diverse endeavours understand the experiment as a formalized (re)staging of an encounter that may produce unforeseen results. Such encounters put greater emphasis on the research environment and foreground the participation of previously neglected human and non-human actors. As a consequence, increasing attention is paid to the constitution, agency, and surfaces of objects of knowledge. The workshop and performance lecture aim to examine the relation, distinction, and interplay between experimental practices, laboratory settings, and creative processes, as well as the status of repetition, restaging, and novelty within knowledge production in the humanities and the performative arts.

Tahani Nadim and Sybille Neumeyer:
Experimental Planting

A seed. An archive. Soaked in material memories of soils, weathers, technologies, journeys, and cross-species interactions. The moment of planting, like an uncertain inscription: will it hold, will it stand up to the scrutiny of bugs and political winds? What endures in the archive and what stands to lose life and the right to flourish are not unrelated. As an effectual epistemic arrangement, archives shore up categories and histories that accord livable lives to some. As a pervious site of things and people, archives can hardly contain the derelictions and nervousness that structure the practices of recording, breeding, and keeping. By introducing other living and non-living records into archival tectonics, what one can call ‘experimental planting’, Nadim and Neumeyer will collectively examine questions of narratives in agricultural practices and archives. They want to pay particular attention to the troubles hidden in their ghostly matters.

They begin by approaching two sites of archival matter: documentary fragments relating to experimental agricultural stations of the German colonial empire kept at the Botanical Museum and Botanical Garden Berlin and the historical archive (Historische Bild- und Schriftgutsammlung) of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. In re-sorting, re-classifying, up-turning, and re-describing documents and traces, this workshop will experiment with and speculate about beginnings and endings, plots and plantations, and present pasts.


Tahani Nadim is a junior professor for socio-cultural anthropology in a joint appointment between the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and the Humboldt-University’s Institute for European Ethnology. Her interdisciplinary research combines the sociology and anthropology of science and problematizes data practices and data infrastructures in biodiversity discovery and natural history collections.

Sybille Neumeyer is a multimedia artist, living and working in Berlin. Her works include drawings, installations, objects, moving and still images through which she explores — with a focus on ecological issues — relationships and entanglements between human and non-human. Currently she is investigating micro-histories and polyphonic (hi)story-telling based on a cross-disciplinary research.


In English

Tahani Nadim
Sybille Neumeyer

Organized by

Organized by Alexander Dunst, Elahe Haschemi Yekani, Anja Sunhyun Michaelsen, Anja Schwarz

A criticalhabitations event in cooperation with ICI Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Paderborn University/BMBF, and Potsdam University