'Summer Flowers' is the name of the next pumflet edition by Wolff Architects and specially commissioned by the Chicago Architecture Biennial 2019. It refers to the work of the writer Bessie Head and gets its name from the initial title of her novel, A Question of Power. The project extends Head's legacy as a novelist, letter writer and essayist into the realm of spatial practice by looking at her contribution into architecture and agriculture. In 1969 she co-designed and built her own house in Serowe, which is now a Botswana national heritage site thanks to its nomination as such by the Bessie Head Heritage Trust. She was able to construct the house with proceeds from her first novel, When Rain Clouds Gather. During this time, she was able, also, to participate in the construction of Serowe's first public garden as part of the Boiteko Farming Brigades. During the day Bessie worked in the garden with fellow brigade members and during the night she worked on her writing, according to Tom Holzinger, Bessie's friend.
The image we would like to construct with the latest pumflet publication is this: during the time that Bessie Head was working as a productive gardener and as a writer in Botswana, urban areas in South Africa, her country of origin, were undergoing the brutality of forced removals and destructions of neighbourhoods. Events that are seen as continuations of the 1913 Land Act, and the implementation of the apartheid Group Areas Act. Bessie Head studied the work of Sol Plaatje, corresponded with Robert Sobukwe and wrote that her work is 'mainly concerned with the manner in which the people lost their land'. Summer Flowers is concerned with how her writing and her spatial practice sits with the legacies of the loss of land and people's dignity in South Africa at the time.
We invite you to join the discussion and participate in the process towards the exhibition by bringing a plant from the specially collated catalogue, [which can be downloaded here] selected based on imagery from Head’s archive and works.
This public discussion and exhibition forms one of several parts that builds towards a cumulative and progressional Summer Flowers project, of which there will be an iteration at the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial in September.
Date: Wednesday 17 July 2019
Place: 136 Buitengracht St