The Danielle Abrams Wellness Night Garden
The night garden is made by those pushed to the outside, it is planted by shadow dwellers, manipulated by sticky little rat hands, swallowed by earthworms. It recognizes the vast corridors of time and space that we travel to collaborate, teach, eat, shit, grow, and make. It is in the wet, un-umbrellaed places - it is dirty. The night garden exists inside the star as medicinal plants for human consumption, and outside of the star in the form of hyperaccumulators - medicine for the dirt - and perennial flowers - medicine for a pollinator, or your girlfriend’s drab dinner table. It could be a library, a gallery, a sanctuary, a kitchen, or a place to have a smoke. There are many ways to collaborate with this kind of garden. You might like to plant some of your own seeds, harvest some medicine, ornament the space, draw, play music for the seedlings, or nap. You might take a moment to put your needs and wants aside and consider if that squirrel over there has had a decent squirrel meal, or if that tree is tired from doing the hard, endless work of detoxifying lead and mercury from the earth beneath you.
The night garden also challenges evidence, artifact, and permanence. Environmental degradation and global warming has ensured precarity in the lives of even the wealthiest, but the dangers posed by these realities are far greater for the poor, the generationally traumatized, the sick, pregnant, unprotected, and unseen. This space is also precarious. It exists on the private land of an arts institution which has been operating for over 100 years. It is with full consideration that this garden may be removed so that this land can continue uncultivated, littered, mowed, and owned, that we put the stars up in the first place. The night garden is precarious, it is not meant to be a monument.
Cycles of life and death and everything else.
This is about grief too. The making of this garden happened in the shadow of a tremendous personal and community loss. Where other art projects seemed impossible to work on while grieving, the Night Garden beckoned. We killed hundreds, probably thousands, of little lives making this space. We dug up grass and dandelions and accidentally halved some worms which almost definitely won’t just become two worms; we displaced some creepy crawling things from their dirt caves and possibly a nest of snakes. There are cycles here beyond our eyes too, of the forced displacement and genocide of the Massachusett people, of slavery and segregregation, of continued oppressions, of babies being born, of illness, of moon gravity, of our neighbors looking for a safe place to sleep, of waking up or not waking up, of tree roots busting through asphalt only for more to be poured, of fire and warming and leaves falling to slowly… slowly.. become dirt. There is grief when you dig and plant in a space as lonesome and discarded as this one.
Something about the feeling of failing to see and support our friend when she was at her lowest, something about promising this patch of land to treasure it at its ugliest - about the condition of being ugly. This garden proudly declares ugly is sexy! Come worm up and grieve, you ugly precious things <3