In Brussels this (northern hemisphere) summer, the Parckdesign 2016 festival made time in its closing days for a low-key session of Making Time. I’ve been working away in the festival’s medicinal garden and distillation laboratory since the rainy months of May & June, where I met deep green-thumbed garden volunteer Fabienne Apt. Fabienne was keen to try out a recipe for lacto-fermentation that she’d found in a magazine, haricots verts croquants à l’aneth, or crunchy green beans with dill – otherwise known as ‘dilly beans’. Green beans are in season here and the garden is overflowing with swathes of flowering fennel and dill right now.
‘C’est la fin des haricots’ is an old-fashioned, faintly melodramatic French expression meaning more or less the end is nigh. Though despair wasn’t something we talked about while topping the beans, we did consider the etymology of the neighborhood we’re in (Forest), once part of a vast forest covering much of the area around Brussels, at a time when the rivers in a place on the other side of the planet ran the opposite way to how they now flow… and what it might look like here in 500 million years, when humans will likely have long left the scene.
On the program later that night was Fabrizio Terranova‘s new film portrait of Donna Haraway, Storytelling for Earthly Survival, screened a few skips away in the woods of Parc Duden, the beautiful 19th century park hosting this year’s edition of the biennial festival. A timely conjuncture for sure, in which Haraway calls urgently for new narratives that run counter to the dominant ones currently squeezing the life and possibility out of our time here on earth.
The maitresse of a practice, women’s labour, the primeval-futural forest and the power relations encoded in language all shared the table as we chopped and filled and measured and poured. We tasted Licia and Fabienne’s exquisite experiments with pickled nasturtium capers, collected from the garden at the beginning of summer, and made up a new batch in smaller jars. And slivers of rosy beetroot found their way into the haricots alongside the pink salt and garlic.
Thanks to Fabienne, Licia, Gilly, Judith, Laura B. Laura G, Charlotte, Chisato and Mi for participating, and to Parckdesign for hosting! 💜