On thinking of rivers as borders
Now let's meet at the Rhine to forget together that a river can also be a border:
Participating artists: Soya Arakawa, Willi Beermann, Norman Begert, Tobias Brembeck, Sarah Buckner, Ivan Geddert, Christof John, Sarah Kürten, Paul Maciejowski, Lotte Maiwald, Erik Olson, Anys Reimann, Josefine Reisch
Dnipro, Evros, Rio Grande
On thinking of rivers as borders
What a beautiful utopia: forgetting that rivers are borders. Because that would also mean forgetting to be in the skin of a person who always thinks his own categories into nature, for whom every landscape anomaly in the internalized steppe also marks upheavals in coexistence. What a beautiful utopia: to think of rivers beyond the human, that imposes the border on them, that can only see the border in them, again and again, between countries, cities, villages, and instead adopt a different way of thinking, that of catfish, signal crabs or sugar fly larvae, for example. Think like a microalgae, like a water molecule, like the sodium ion from a crystal lattice of salt that, dissolved in the water, floats towards the North Sea.
Thought changes direction. Instead of thinking about the confronting shores, it thinks its way through it fluidly. And even if it seems narrowly limited by them, it is clear that it must end in the ocean, inevitably, and if not there, if it is lost on the way, in the heights of the troposphere, more unthinkable even for us gathered here.
What we think of on the banks of the Rhine when we speak: of the tamerisk plants that were once supposed to stabilize the banks of the Rio Grande, the border river between the USA and Mexico, but then allowed it to dry out, so that today it seeps away rather than drying out to find its way into the sea. To the Ukrainian truck drivers who spoke a decade ago about which bridges over the Dnipro they would have to block with their vehicles in order to prevent a Russian advance on Kiev, and about how the Dnipro is actually insurmountable today, since The Kakhovka Dam was blown up to prevent Ukrainian soldiers from repelling the advance. We think of the dead on the Evros, which separates Turkey and Greece, and of the stream around Lübeck, created as a military defense force in the Middle Ages, at the same time a city boundary and defensive structure, which separated NATO and the Warsaw Pact in the 20th century and today separates the Hanseatic city of Lübeck from Bad Schwartau and Lüdersdorf, and which is therefore as insurmountable as an iron curtain for Lübeck refugees in the first months of their arrival.
We think of this one place in the Zambezi River where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe seem to meet, but also of the fact that nobody knows where exactly it is, and of the fact that nobody knows exactly where the Rubicon went , which Julius Caesar violated, until Benito Mussolini let the locals persuade him in 1938 that the Fiumicino, on whose banks the fascist owned a villa, was actually that one. And that's why we crossed the Rubicon in midsummer, somewhere between Rimini and Ravenna, and thought to ourselves: Now look, such a small trickle and such a big word, it would be so easy to drive back and forth here, just through that Roundabout, to be precise, and nothing, nothing would have happened.
And because we are sitting on the Rhine, we remember that in ancient European thought, civilization ended here, and depending on whether we sit on the left or right bank, we are actually gathering in ancient Rome or in the Hercynian jungle. We are thinking of the French Cisrhenan Republic, which never came into being, although it was a quasi-natural necessity because, as George Danton said, the borders of the French Republic were formed by nature, i.e. by the Rhine in the east and by the ocean in the west , while we think, because we are in another country, that it is positioned from the Meuse to the Memel down to the Etsch, and that this map can never work. Wasn't that Danton, with the bathtub?
We don't know that, we think, water again, we can't know anything about it, because we're gathered here as two H, one O, and next to us too, two H, one O, and so on, what do we know? from your shores! We let ourselves be driven purposefully into the mouth of a lamprey and happily torn apart.