Living with the Apple Tree?

// Lecture + Film + Discussion + Choir + Food and Drink
Fri, 20 Oct 2023, 6 pm
Bauhaus Museum Dessau, Foyer

The fifth edition of the Friday Group is dedicated to the apple. Using it as an example, this event will explore diversity on different levels. Although biodiversity is the foundation of stable ecosystems, in agriculture and commerce diversity is often regarded as disruptive. The Friday Group will discuss what agriculture might look like if considered not just in terms of human beings but also of plants and their needs and possibilities.

It begins with planting heirloom varieties of apple trees in various locations in the city of Dessau-Rosslau. These plantings are connected with an exhibition by Antje Majewski and Paweł Freisler at the Umweltbundesamt (German Environment Agency) titled Der Apfel. Eine Einführung. (Immer und immer und immer wieder) (The Apple: An Introduction [Always and Over and Over]). While wild apple forests in Kazakhstan are made up of millions of different apple trees, the culture of breeding and cultivation fruit stabilizes individual trees as specific varieties, each of which meets specific human requirements: from sweet to bitter, early to suitable for storage, juice apples to kitchen apples. As late as the nineteenth century, there were still more than ten thousand varieties in Europe. These days an apple is expected to be above all crisp, unblemished, and available in the supermarket all year round. Worldwide, only around ten varieties are cultivated and marketed in large quantities. Because these varieties no longer evolve, and hence cannot adapt to pests, crop protection is increasingly necessary, even when farming organically.

The contributions to this programme raise questions about the paths out of this dilemma. Would greater diversity and cultivation in biotopes rather than plantations help? How can consumers contribute? The Friday Group is bringing together historical knowledge and current trends in fruit farming using little or no crop protection and discussing paths to increased diversity and an economy of the local.


Barbara Steiner, Director of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation + Heike Brückner, Research associate of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation

The Apple: An Introduction (Always and Over and Over)
// Intro
Antje Majewski, artist, and Lena Johanna Reisner, curator

The artist Antje Majewski and Paweł Freisler have initiated a project around the apple. Since 2014, exhibitions, apple sponsoring programmes, workshops, and discussions have been held in various locations. This Friday Group concerns the exhibition of the same title at the Umweltbundesamt, which it also concludes. In dialogue with co-curator Lena Reisner, Antje Majewski reports on the project.
(10 – 15 min.)

Wild Apples
// Impulse
Excerpt from Antje Majewski’s documentary film Wilde Äpfel (Wild Apples) (5–10 min.)
The film can also be seen in full in the exhibition.

Heirloom Varieties: The Value, Use, and Preservation of Diversity
// Lecture
Eckart Brandt, fruit farmer and pomologist, Boomgarden Park Helmste

Eckart Brandt presents the creation, shaping, and continuation of a programme to preserve heirloom varieties using the example of the Boomgarden project he established on the Lower Elbe in 1985, which since 2012 has had its centre in the Boomgarden Park Helmste. A diverse biotope there preserves hundreds of heirloom apple varieties. (20 min.)

Compositions to Celebrate the Apple
// Music

The Friedrich-Schneider-Chor Dessau under the direction of Martin Stephan sing the compositions Apple Cuckoo by Katrin Vellrath and Apfelbaum (Apple Tree) by Henry Thomet, created especially for Antje Majewski & Paweł Freisler’s apple project. (15 min.)

The Apple as Food
Identifying fruit varieties with Eckart Brandt, accompanied by:
Food and drink with the Cafeteria in the Museum Bauhaus Dessau and Urbane Farm Dessau (50 min.)

8 pm
Quo vadis, Fruit Farming? The Path to More Ecology and Diversity of Fruit
// Discussion

Jörn Wogram, head of the Crop Protection department, German Environment Agency
+ Jan Kalbitz, chairman of the Fördergemeinschaft Ökologischer Obstbau (Society to Promote Organic Fruit Farming)
+ Otto Glöckner, KüfA Dessau, preserving fruit and vegetables and cooperative processing
Moderation: Antje Majewski

The standardization of the apple over the past fifty years has gone hand in hand with the industrialization of their cultivation – to the detriment of the environment.
How can we reduce the need for crop protection in fruit farming? What forms of fruit framing encourage biological diversity? What role do consumers’ expectations play in the apple offerings at the supermarket? (50 min.)

// Finale
Friedrich-Schneider-Chor Dessau