The ornamental Hermit in the gemstone Garden



The ornamental Hermit in the gemstone Garden

With the promising name of the housing estate “Edelsteingarten” (gemstone garden)  in mind, Oliver Gather investigated the aspirations of the residents of a “normal” housing estate in the commuter catchment area of Cologne. 

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Oliver Gather’s research led him to the “ornamental hermits”, who were hired by English aristocrats from the 18th century onwards as living ornaments for their landscape gardens. English landscape gardens and the settlement “Edelsteingarten” (gemstone garden) are both stagings of an illusion of nature. The figure of the ornamental hermit was intended to complete the image of nature of his time and is now being transferred to the suburban housing estate. How can a contemporary ornamental hermit coherently intervene in the gemstone garden? As with the previous projects of the 18th century, a job advertisement was launched in 2022 to find performers who feel up to this role. What unrealised or unfulfilled longings and feelings can he*she embody in the Edelsteingarten?

7 applicants (Alejandra Baltazares, Thomas Bernstein, Michael Cichon, Ramòn Graefenstein, Stefanie Klingemann, Tanja Kodlin, Konstantin Leonhard) developed performative interventions for the gemstone garden. In a public casting, the residents selected the proposal of the duo Ramòn Graefenstein and Tanja Kodlin to take up the position of the ornamental Hermit. The two performers listened in on the estate in 2023-2024, capturing wishes and desires and weaving them into a dense associative image. To summarise their work, they presented a final performative intervention in 2024.


Announcement of the casting.

Programme of the event.

The ornamental hermits Ramòn Graefenstein and Tanja Kodlin, selected by a jury of local residents, the mayor and art historian Ann-Katrin Günzel. The two artists continued to develop the project in collaboration with Oliver Gather until 2024. / ©Norbert Aufsfeld.

Alejandra Baltazares. / ©Christian Ahlborn

Konstantin Leonhard. / ©Christian Ahlborn

Stefanie Klingemann. / ©Christian Ahlborn

Tanja Kodlin und Ramòn Graefenstein. / ©Christian Ahlborn

Michael Cichon. / ©Christian Ahlborn

Announcement of the jury's decision. / ©Christian Ahlborn