Botanical Drift: Protagonists of the Invasive Herbarium is a series of performances in Kew Botanical Gardens curated with Petra Lange-Berndt and Mark Nesbitt, including 20 other authors and artists such as Germaine Greer and herman de vries in a series of interventions into the Economic Botany collection. The Sternberg anthology I edited will be launched at Motto Berlin with an exhibition of an artists edition of the book.
After a conference at UCL we edited all these contributions into a volume for Sternberg Press, which is beautifully illustrated by A Practise for Everyday Life who managed to bring together the cornucopia of materials that include photographs from dance to archives, screen prints, flower presses and all sorts of other things made for the drift. My contribution focussed on Maori plant taxonomies and the misrecognition of them in Kew, in a performance in the New Zealand garden. For the artist’s edition of the book I made a portrait of each plant protagonist on recycled wood covers of herbarium presses, which are exhibited at Motto Berlin. I made an accompanying soundtrack with Mo’ong called Suara Tanaman, which means the Sound of Plants in Bahasa Indonesian.
Above: herman de vries, I am, Thursday, 5th 2014, Kew Gardens, Various locations, London. Photographs by Olaf Pascheit.
Emma Waltraud Howes, Subcutaneous Ha-Has, photographs by Takako Hasegawa.
The miniature world of Economic Botany in Kew Gardens, its elaborate greenhouses and follies, is the site and material of this botanical drift. In this workshop phase it addresses recent advances in plant molecular biology, cellular biology, electrophysiology and ecology that have unmasked plants as sensory and communicative organisms, characterized by active, problem-solving behaviour.
Botanical gardens, documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display, and education, are well-tended areas infamous for their connection to European imperialism and its expansionist projects. Understanding ourselves as within the Anthropocene’s age of transgenic modification we interrogate how Kew distracts from climate change with its illusion of stability. Economic histories of globalization will be unfurled through plant protagonists such as ferns, trees, sea coconuts, other rebel species, and their vegetable philosophies. With Bergit Arends, Natasha Eaton, Emma Waltraud Howes, Melanie Jackson, Alana Jelinek, Philip Kerrigan, Petra Lange-Berndt, Wietske Maas, Olaf Pascheit, Matteo Pasquinelli, Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll.