Peatland Forensics by Leoni Fischer

Leoni Fischer is a product designer and artist based in Berlin, Germany. She holds a BA in Product Design from Bauhaus University Weimar. After experiences at Studio Dotdotdot Milan and Studio Olafur Eliasson Berlin, she is now enrolled in the MA Art Studies program at Burg Giebichenstein, Halle. Leoni Fischer is fascinated by the entanglements of landscape, psychology, and cultural artifacts. Her practice focuses on the political and poetic entanglements between landscapes and cultural artifacts with a strong focus on environmental issues. Recently she has been investigating the psychological implications of climate crisis such as Solastalgia and Ecological Grief through site-specific ceramics-design.

Peatland Forensics

The Beginning
Leoni Fischer: “Peatland Forensics” started with a question: how does the climate crisis affect our mental health and how can Design help us to stay resilient?
When I learned about the term „Ecological Grief”, I wanted to find out what it meant to mourn a landscape. My personal quest within the Red Moor, a landscape in the German Rhön area which is directly affected by climate change, functioned as the starting point for the creation of eight clay vessels. The series is showing the anthropogenic and climatic processes that have shaped the bog throughout the centuries while forming a reminiscence for the place. They tell its story through shape, manufacture, and material and show its constant threat of dehydration. Retracing these processes along the surface of the vessel thus becomes a tactile experience, offering a space for reflection and grief.

Materials & Processes
Leoni Fischer: Around 1800, firing material was running out in the german Rhön area and so the hard struggle of the people with the peatlands began. After only 99 years of peat extraction, the “Red Moor” is today considered dead. In the 1960s a medieval clay pot was found there while cutting peat – a “mass product” of its time, it provides information about everyday life in the now-forgotten “Moor-village” nearby. Pottery workshops around the bog processed the white clay of the region. The kilns were fired with peat. In my design, I used all of these elements, the archetypical shape of the pot, the white clay, and the peat, to capture the landscape change over the period of human intervention. At the same time, the vessel refers to the cultural products that were produced through the bog. I chose peat as “trigger”, the structured surface as “product” and the vessel as the „carrier” of these processes. Metaphorically, the peat points to the extraction of the raw material and thus the overexploitation of the landscape which eventually caused its death. The brittle surface structure shows the increasingly visible decay of the peatlands. The vessel contains this process in the context of the “Red Moor” and thus indicates the influence of humans as the formative force behind these processes. Due to the increasing decomposition of the clay body over the course of the vessel series, land acquisition and desiccation become traceable.

Main Challenges
Leoni Fischer: The most challenging bit was to develop an individual design strategy that runs parallel to the emotional process of mourning the landscape of the peatland and the creation of the site-specific memorial objects. Furthermore, burning raw earth creates fumes that would have affected the walls of the electrical kiln I was using but luckily KAHLA Porcelain managed to fire the fragile pots in their workshops.

Available Works:
Title: Peatland Forensics Clay-Vessel
Materials: clay
Dimensions: 30 x 30 cm | Price: 250€

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