People were asked, in a caring hosting tradition, to tell the plant what she could expect to experience and to discover along her journey, what and whom (humans and other than humans) she may encounter.
Seven Skins Goes Seven Seas
Lina Mejía Álvarez
The Tibouchina lepidota also known as the Andean princess flower or alstonville was my grandmothers favorite tree. In Spanish she is known as the siete cueros because her bark peels in layers, she blossoms beautiful and abundant magenta, violet and purple edible flowers. My grandmother would make syrup from the flowers. I planted one in my garden in honor of her when she died. When I asked her, my beautiful Andean princess this morning where she would like to travel, she whispered to me through the soft early breeze, the seven seas I want to see. And she continued saying, for so many years you have come to me to weep the sea from your past which you miss so much. And all the stories of your travels at sea have taught me things the mountain has never taught me. I want to feel the salty breeze and the muggy heat, I want to leave a piece of bark and flower at every sea. I want to float and miss the cold, I want to come down from the mountain and feel the other soils.
A place for you
Wurundjeri Country, Melbourne, Australia
Curator, Science Gallery Melbourne, embedded within the University of Melbourne
Hey, so you’re heading to Australia soon. I’d love to show you around. The country is massive with a huge range of climates and conditions. I live on Wurundjeri Country which is in the city of Melbourne, also known as Naarm originally by the First Nations people. You’re probably not that interested in humans but the Indigenous people here are the oldest living culture of humankind. If you were going to be interested in any humans, these are the ones to choose. They’ve been custodians of this land for more than 65,000 years. The plant life is colourful, robust and unique. One tree you *have* to meet is the Wollemi pine, which has been growing here since dinosaurs were roaming. 2020 hasn’t been a year for much roaming. We’ve been in lockdown for long stretches because of that awful virus and the havoc it’s causing. Viruses are the worst. I know, #NotAllViruses but seriously, most of them are such self-centred troublemakers. One nice thing from this year has been the connections I’ve made with plants. I’m surrounded by them. Anyway, can’t wait until you visit! You can even stay with me and housemates. We’ve made a place for you already.
Looking for the coucous
Art critic, director Leonardo/Olats // Critique d’art, directrice de Leonardo/Olats
I am living in Paris. But I was born and grew up in the countryside, in Limousin. Each Spring, everyone wanted to be the first to hear the “coucou” (Cuculus canorus) singing. When, in the distance, the two sounds “ku-ku” resonnated, it meant that Winter was over. The adults eyes, as well as those of the kids, were shining. As a child, with my grand-mothers, we were searching for another coucou: a flower. Rare and wild, with a violet flower on a 20 centimeters stem, it was growing in the depth of the fields and was not easy to spot (at least for me). When we were discovering one of them, it was pure wonder. I had the feeling that I had accessed something precious. We did not pick them. I had forgotten about the bird and the plant, until this Spring 2020, when Tatiana Kourochkina and Claudia Schnugg told me about the orchids that were growing in their gardens. They looked like so much the flower of my childhood. I don’t know her name, I believe it was a Dactylorhiza. Perhaps, in your travel around the world, there will be an art project that will connect our orchids …
Il y a longtemps que j’habite à Paris maintenant. Mais je suis née et j’ai grandie à la campagne, en Limousin. Au printemps, chacun voulait être le premier à entendre le chant du coucou (Cuculus canorus). Quand, au loin, nous entendions les deux sons “ku-ku”, cela signalait la fin de l’hiver. Les yeux des adultes comme ceux des enfants brillaient. Enfant, avec mes grands-mères, nous partions à la recherche d’un autre coucou, une fleur cette fois. Sauvage et rare, avec une fleur dans les violets sur une tige d’environ 20 centimètres, elle poussait au fonds des près et n’était pas facile à trouver (en tout cas, pour moi). Quand nous en découvrions une, c’était l’émerveillement. J’avais le sentiment d’avoir accès à quelque chose de précieux. Nous ne les cueillions pas. J’avais oublié l’oiseau et la plante, jusqu’à ce que, en ce printemps 2020, Tatiana Kourochkina et Claudia Schnugg me parlent des orchidées dans leurs jardins respectifs. Elles ressemblaient tellement à la fleur de mon enfance. J’ignore son nom, je crois que c’était une Dactylorhiza. Peut-être y aura t-il, dans ton voyage autour du monde, un projet artistique qui unira nos orchidées …
Where no plant has been before
Garching bei München, Germany
Astronomer at the European Southern Observatory
Dear plant, my invitation to you is to a plantless place, called Cerro Armazones, in the desert of Atacama. Even if you were the most thirst-resisting cactus, that doesn’t sound like a friendly environment for plants… But sometimes, deserts are places of promise, and Armazones holds a promise to scientists. Astronomers are building there the most powerful telescope in the world, and one of the many exciting things that it might see is planets like our Earth outside our solar system. And what is the most exciting thing to be found in another planet? Life, of course! Looking for life light years away is tricky, but plants can help. If there are plants a bit like you out there, making their planet green as you do, the light that they reflect from their suns may display something called “the red edge of vegetation”, due to the chlorophile in your leaves. Life in a planet covered by forests could be revealed in that way. Astronomers will look for that from Cerro Armazones. The combined signature of billions of plants waving their existence to the Universe. Wouldn’t you like to be there when that happens? We won’t forget watering you!
Oxnard, California, USA, originally from Guatemala
Ornithologist in Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology
Guatemala. Habitat is dry forest; we have a diversity of plants and animals of which several are rare and threatened species. This forest is of great ecological importance because of the conditions of geographical isolation developed by several species that inhabit only in these regions. Here we have cactus, air plants, acacias, fruit trees, hummingbirds, parakeets, magpies, orioles, hawks, armadillos, iguanas, frogs, giant insects of many colors and many other animals. The most important and keeping this village alive is the Rio Motagua, this river is the largest in Guatemala; it provides the flora and fauna the water they need to survive in this very dry area. Everything I’m telling you about El Chical sounds great, isn’t it? Unfortunately, we are about to lose all this, in recent years, the river has become a dump for the drains and garbage of the capital of Guatemala, if we do not do something urgently we will regret the loss of this paradise home of our flora and fauna, we need the world to know this, can you help us telling this story at the next places you visit?
Paraiso en Peligro
El Chical, Morazán, Departamento El Progreso, 75 km al norte de la capital de Guatemala. El hábitat es bosque seco; tenemos una diversidad de plantas y animales de los cuales varias son especies raras y amenazadas. Este bosque es de gran importancia ecológica debido a las condiciones de aislamiento geográfico desarrolladas por varias especies que habitan sólo en estas regiones. Aquí tenemos cactus, plantas de aire, acacias, árboles frutales, colibríes, pericos, urracas, orioles, halcones, armadillos, iguanas, ranas, insectos gigantes de muchos colores y muchos otros animales. El más importante y mantiene viva a esta aldea es el Río Motagua, este río es el más grande de Guatemala; proporciona a la flora y fauna el agua que necesitan para sobrevivir en esta zona muy seca. Todo lo que te digo de El Chical suena genial, ¿no? Desafortunadamente, estamos a punto de perder todo esto, en los últimos años, el río se ha convertido en un vertedero para los desagües y basura de la capital de Guatemala, si no hacemos algo urgente lamentaremos la pérdida de este paraíso, hogar de nuestra flora y fauna, necesitamos que el mundo lo sepa, ¿puedes ayudarnos a contar esta historia en los próximos lugares que visites?
Astrophysicist (Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris)
To Mr. Thomas Bridges
Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego
August 8, 1880Dear Mister Bridges,
In London, I found a new plant Whose flower was a pure delight; “Manypeeplia Upsidownia” Is the name I gave to this plant.
Every day, before sunrise, the flower starts to sing in a perfect canon along the music of “Frère Jacques”, namely:
Morning bells are ringing! Morning bells are ringing! Ding, dong, dong. Ding, dong, dong.
I here send you seeds & a living plant in the hope that they arrive safely & well & that you can grow the “Manypeeplia Updsidownia” successfully in Patagonia. In doing so you do honor to the Science of your Country, Promote in Some Degree the Commerce & aid the Population. It is with uttermost curiosity that I await you report & hear from you if the flower also sings its song in Waghan or any other native language of Tierra del Fuego.
Most sincerely yours, Edward Lear
Follow the Sign.
Artist, Curator, University of Toronto and Ontario College of Art and Design University.
Jill, my Anishinaabe friend introduced me to a mysterious Marker Tree in one of the inner city parks in Toronto inhabited by the Iroquois and Mississauga’s before the Europeans arrived. One unique characteristic of the marker tree is a horizontal bend several feet off the ground, which makes it visible at greater distances even in snow. Oak and maple trees were used for their durability and ability to retain shape. From time immemorial Marker Trees of Indigenous People guided travellers on a network of trails and paths from place to place. According to historical research these trees were pointing towards fresh water springs, a waterway, a settlement, or safe river crossings. Trees would also guide people to copper deposits, to areas abundant with medicinal plants or plants used to make dyes for ceremonial rituals also to ancestral burial sites. Marker trees differed from tribe to tribe notably however, the entire network extended between north/southeastern groups of Indigenous people across North America. Now the number of these unprotected trees is radically diminishing. Even if humans leave them in peace, age is creeping up on them. What can my marker tree in Toronto expect from the future?
The Traveling Tree
Davis, California, USA
What passed through my parent’s minds when they explored this land and you discovered them? I wonder.
500 years old. A giant among giants.
Your sweeping arms encompassing an entire meadow.
An earth to the violets in your dancing shadows.
A galaxy to the myriad webs of hyphae in your roots.
Our name for you is “Big Elm Tree.” We are traveling colonizers who have discovered you.
I wonder if you have a name for us: Macroscopic bacteria, another species passing through your domain.
Every solar return, your shower of thousands rains down into the damp darkness of soil, an army of life.
My parents have only 8 offspring, and I spread my father’s ashes beneath the constellations of your boughs.
Your vast ecosystems circulating beneath your fallen leaves consume him.
Do you taste any difference between his molecules or the molecules in the fungi you feed?
Do you assimilate his short story as you have with the thousands before him? A blink in timelessness.
You have discovered us, great colonizing traveler: with countless others,
A dead beetle,
Your own opus magnum of the world, chronicled in layers of parenchyma.
Traveling by assimilation.
The Brightly Glowing Ecological Niche
The space is unusual: empty, barren, dark. No self-respecting organism would venture there, for fear of perishing, starved. And yet, life leaves no leaf unturned in its quest for pristine and still unoccupied environments. Soft tendrils of existence are constantly probing for ways to survive the most extreme conditions, to tame their harsh surroundings, to flourish where others wither. Deinococcus radiodurans has shown the way, yet is merely a consummate survivor, fending off radiation’s ill effects, surviving where others can‘t.
Now add that trick to Pisum sativum’s or Avicennia marina’s ability to absorb and accumulate lead or mercury, and take the next step: to use the electrons kicked out by radiation from those heavy metals in their leaves instead of those from photosynthesis. Enveloping themselves in a dense, toxic metal shield, their offspring could transform any deadly radiation into a source of sustenance while at the same time using the same armor as protection.
This thus is the ecological niche to conquer: deep and humid underground fissures in granite, replete with a rich Radon atmosphere; the ancient water-logged Uranium concentrations of the Oklo reactor; and uncounted other, artificial, man-made oases, akin to an uninhabited archipelago of ephemeral deep sea smokers.
You have entered my life through a dream, offering a vision of a new story of your presence here, outside of your original home. In my dream a Rainbow Eucalyptus was growing outside of my house, tall and slender, with slightly curved trunk. Some branches were trimmed, the trunk was scarred, but the tree looked healthy. Parts of the trunk were wrapped in fabric and from the bottom branches hanging offerings. You have challenged me into an initiation. You have offered me your questions. I answer your invitation by offering you my voice. What is your true mission here? What is your message to us, humans? How can we move from hostility to harmony? You invited me to dream together, so here we are dreaming outside of time. And if everything had a purpose, the stolen time, the uninvited invasion, the seeds planted without permission, would inevitably carry the dream to other lands. Becoming the new natives, they would fall into the cracks in the land made vacant for them. You hold space with your roots in the dreaming. Between the worlds you hold many stories I will tell beyond time.
The Land of the Future
Buenos Aires, Argentina
You arrived in the land of the future. Look around! Everywhere until the horizon, you’ll see the survivors, metallic robotic trees that tried for a long time to recover part of the atmosphere generating oxygen and obtaining water. After many centuries of pollution and radiation most of the life on the planet disappeared. These trees of life are still there, waiting for a miracle, for a new opportunity for the plants to grow. The question is: do the plants and the rest of the life on the planet have a second chance? The future is a place that we don’t need to find, it will come to us. We don’t know how long it will take but we know for sure is coming. Let’s travel around the world raising awareness on environmental issues, maybe when we will arrive in the land of the future it will be different, we the plants will be graceful.
The Evolutionary Trip of the Galapagos Cotton
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos
Galapagos Naturalist Guide
I want to share with the world my amazing evolutionary story. Thousand of years ago, my ancestor, a cotton plant, lived in South America; birds used to collect its seeds but one day the birds got blown way off course by strong winds taken to the vast Pacific Ocean. Flying for their lifes, they found the remote Galapagos Islands. A hostile environment was awaiting, the cotton seeds fell in cracks of lava rocks, where little plants started to grow. Here is where my story begins. It was not easy to survive, my existence was challenged by constant water scarcity and sudden weather changes, and even though I made it! Adapting to the new and unique environment was the only choice I had and transformed me into an endemic species, one of a kind, the Galapagos cotton. Nowadays I flourish in the arid zone of several Islands and day by day, my bright large yellow flowers attract Galapagos carpenter bees, which enjoy my nectar and are essential for pollination. I am visited by a good number of Darwin finches too, eager to get the most comfortable nesting material: my cotton! My life is valuable and key for the fragile ecosystem. Life is a struggle, and although I was not the strongest plant, I found my way to continue to grow.
El viaje evolutivo del Algodoncillo de Galapagos
Quiero compartir con el mundo mi sorprendente viaje evolutivo. Hace miles de años mi ancestro, una planta de algodón, vivía en el continente Sudamericano; aves a menudo recolectaban sus semillas y un día, vientos muy fuertes los desviaron de su curso y se encontraron volando por sus vidas en el vasto Océano Pacifico, se salvaron al llegar a las remotas Islas Galápagos. Un ambiente hostil les esperaba, las semillas cayeron en las grietas de las rocas de lava, donde comenzaron a crecer. Y es aquí donde mi historia comienza. Sobrevivir no fue fácil. Fui desafiada constantemente por la falta de agua y bruscos cambios del clima, y aun así lo logré! Mi única alternativa fue adaptarme al nuevo entorno y transformarme en lo que. ahora soy: una especie endémica, única como ninguna otra. Mi hábitat es en la zona árida de las islas Galápagos y día a día las abejas carpinteras son atraídas por mis hermosas y grandes flores amarillas, ellas disfrutan de mi néctar y me ayudan en la polinización. Soy visitada por un gran número de Pinzones de Darwin, quienes utilizan mi algodón para sus nidos. Mi vida es invaluable y pieza clave para el frágil ecosistema. La vida es una constante lucha y aunque yo no era la planta más fuerte, a mi manera seguí creciendo.
Haris Garouniatis (text), Ana Čavić (visual)
Athens, Greece ; Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Ana Čavić: artist, PhD student; Winchester School of Art (Winchester, UK) as part of University of Southampton (Southampton, UK)
- Haris Garouniatis: poet
Everyone knows that classical music was not written for people. Because of the cologne you gave me, every year on my birthday I jump into my armchair like a plant in a pot, listening to Frescobaldi on full blast and smelling wonderfully.
Translated into English by Ana Čavić and Haris Garouniatis
Όλοι ξέρουν πως η κλασική μουσική δεν γράφτηκε για τους ανθρώπους. Με βάση την κολόνια που μου χάρισες, κάθε χρόνο στα γενέθλιά μου χώνομαι στην πολυθρόνα μου όπως σ’ ένα κασπώ, ακούγοντας στο τέρμα Φρεσκομπάλντι και μυρίζοντας υπέροχα.
Eugene, Oregon, USA
Over the course of your lifetime, which may last for centuries, you do not need to move more than a few inches from where you germinated. But humans now have another plan for you. You will travel. You will encounter new qualities of light, unfamiliar climates, gatherings of plants brought together by money, ideas, and dreams, and exotic microorganisms. Some of these are dangerous. It is possible your journey will end in death, but do not be afraid. If death arrives, you will experience nothing: no light or darkness, heat or cold, no pleasure or pain, no dreams. Already you embody elements of death’s non-experience. You are not sentient, which can be confusing for us humans because we identify with sentience. We have difficulty comprehending life without it, but your existence is proof that life is far richer and more complex than we think. Your silence is a blessing. Your way of being brings us calm and pleasure. If we are lucky, as you travel we will learn from you.
All that lives moves
María Antonia González Valerio
Mexico City, Mexico.
Philosopher. Arte+Ciencia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Moving from place to place is proper to animals. Plants stay put. Animals move by themselves (?). The cause of movement in plants is foreign to the plant itself (!). This is one of the great divisions that Western thought has drawn between plants and animals.
Nonetheless, plants move quite a bit in that they grow. Some even do so boundlessly.
Animals always have well defined limits and contours.
Plants do not.
Seeds, however, move about continuously.
Are seeds plants?
In any case, they are moved by something other. The wind, an animal, a seed drill stowed on a truck.
They are stored in strange lands at the very confines of the world, where they cannot –and will not– grow.
A sterile seedbank.
Plants are moved by humans. But humans have moved everything around.
Even the largest of boulders, even the oceans.
Humans have promoted a massive, intercontinental exchange of living beings.
Why are you being moved? Will they make a traveler out of you, or a mere tourist? Are you a specimen ready for the herbarium, beaming with taxonomical impetus? Or is it your intent to settle instead in one of our cracked pavements, where the meandering roots of trees grow?
What do you move for?
And all that lives moves.
Todo lo vivo se mueve
Moverse de lugar es algo propio de los animales. Las plantas permanecen en su sitio. Los animales se mueven por sí mismos (?). La causa del movimiento de las plantas es ajeno a éstas (!). Esta es una de las grandes divisiones que la tradición occidental ha hecho entre plantas y animales.
Las plantas se mueven mucho, sin embargo, porque crecen, algunas de ellas ilimitadamente.
Los animales siempre tienen límites definidos.
Las plantas no.
Aunque las semillas se mueven de sitio constantemente.
¿Las semillas son una planta?
En todo caso, son movidas por algo otro. El viento, los animales, el tractor.
Son almacenadas en extraños lugares que parecen el fin del mundo y donde no pueden crecer.
Un banco de semillas estéril.
Las plantas son movidas de sitio por los humanos. Pero los humanos han movido todo de sitio. Hasta las grandes rocas, hasta los mares.
Los humanos han promovido un intercambio masivo e intercontinental de seres vivos.
¿Por qué te mueven a ti? ¿Te harán una viajera o una superficial turista? ¿Eres un ejemplar presto a habitar un herbolario y deseoso de taxonomía? ¿O pretendes radicar en alguna de nuestras banquetas rotas donde crecen árboles de raíces sinuosas?
¿Para qué te mueves?
Y todo lo vivo se mueve.
Pierre Guillet de Monthoux
Professor Emeritus; Stockholm School of Economics, Arts Initiative, Stockholm University
Swedes love Nature. Beware of them. They might eat you up. Stop them from all that! Sharpen your Thorns! And you will travel safely
Plant Log : 19072020
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I am so excited for you to be taking this journey despite the uncertainties on this planet. There is no precedence for anything anymore. This can be very liberating if you greet others with a sense of care and kindness for yourself and for the other. Most of the places you wish to visit have tightened their borders and so travel is going to be difficult. But your persistence is commendable. Don’t be disheartened with the hardships you may face. If not for these hardships, adventure and discovery would be a distant dream. Even if for some strange reason, you have to stay here much longer than you wish, try to make the most of what you have. Work with what you have. I know of this group of creatures who believe in the oneness of life and environment. They meditate loudly using their voice and believe that by transforming the self, they can affect change around them. They are many in body but one in mind. They would be very curious to hear about your experiences and learn from you. I am sure something fabulous will result from our shared experiences. I Believe what you are doing matters! Godspeed.
Interspecies Communication: lucid dreams from Kongo Astronauts
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Artist, co-founder of the fluctuating art collective Kongo Astronauts, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Imagine our traveling plant as a matrix for language invoking deeper knowledge of ourselves, maybe even giving insight on the multiverse. Our traveling plant is not just any plant, we are talking here about a plant which is itself the vehicle allowing us to travel through time and space, through the junction of our synapses to the core of our pineal gland where lucid dreams may unfold. A plant as a catalyst for change that needs all our protection, a plant triggering interspecies telepathic uprising to stimulate ancestral memory and expand awareness and sensation, a plant responding to sound frequencies to rise towards the sky, a plant communicating with other plants using the mycelium of mushrooms that connects roots to one another (earth natural network), a plant for new cognitive activities … The plant as a trance. From the urban maze of Kinshasa, Kongo Astronauts land on the post-plantation of Lusanga (Kwilu Province of DRC) to meet with the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League (CATPC). Together as planters, nganga (traditional healers), dreamers, artists, they enhance their extra-sensorial perception to investigate remaining knowledge of nature’s magical realm as the politics of extraction inherited from the colonial era continues to destroy tropical forests of Central Africa.
Communication interespèces : les rêves lucides des Kongo Astronauts
Imaginez notre plante comme une matrice du langage invoquant une connaissance plus profonde de nous-mêmes, peut-être même donnant une perception du multivers. Notre plante itinérante n’est pas n’importe quelle plante, nous parlons ici d’une plante qui est elle-même le véhicule nous permettant de voyager à travers le temps et l’espace, à travers la jonction de nos synapses jusqu’au cœur de notre glande pinéale d’où se déroulent les rêves lucides. Une plante comme catalyseur de changement qui a besoin de toute notre protection, une plante déclenchant le soulèvement télépathique interespèces pour stimuler la mémoire ancestrale et élargir la conscience et la sensation, une plante répondant aux fréquences sonores pour s’élever vers le ciel, une plante communiquant avec d’autres plantes grâce au mycélium des champignons qui relient les racines des plantes les unes aux autres (réseau naturel de la terre), une plante pour de nouvelles activités cognitives… La plante comme transe. Depuis le labyrinthe urbain de Kinshasa, les Kongo Astronautes débarquent sur la post-plantation de Lusanga (province du Kwilu en RDC) pour rencontrer le Cercle d’Art des travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC). Ensemble en tant que planteurs, nganga (guérisseurs traditionnels), rêveurs, artistes, ils améliorent leur perception extra-sensorielle pour enquêter sur les connaissances du royaume magique de la nature qui ont subsisté alors que la politique d’extraction héritée de l’ère coloniale continue de détruire les forêts tropicales d’Afrique Centrale.
Plants for Hard Times
Kathy High with Dr. Michael Long
Troy, New York, USA
Artist / professor (Kathy High) – with scientist (Michael Long), BAT Lab (BioArt and Technology Laboratory), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. USA
The pandemic hit us all hard. Everything closed down. The lab was closed, locked up. Shut down. We had to leave all the research behind.
After three and a half months we returned to the lab at the biotech center. The plants had been on their own that entire time. My colleague, Michael – Dr. Long, had left the plants under grow lights, all of them under the glow of the purple light. Left alone, unattended for those months.
The plants were mostly dead when examined. Each in their individual sterile vile. But surprisingly, it turned out, there were some amazing signs of life.
Michael noticed it first. He took pictures of them. While most of the plants had died, there were some that had produced amazing flowers. Michael called them the “flowers of hope” given the moment.
We took the flowering plants home. We planted them in our gardens, on the graves of our loved ones. They will flourish and seed and travel. Released from the lab thanks to COVID-19.
A Virtual Seed and Bio-scleaving* to the World
Professor, complex systems science, the University of Tokyo
The world is filled with representations. The Adriatic Sea and the skies above Everest are more blue and beautiful than they are, and people never see the other side of these representations. Since the spread of COVID-19, people are just experiencing representations. Such representation is reality, and we are no longer interested in looking beyond representations. COVID-19 is a representation. The sea is also a representation. There is nothing more to know about the sea than recalling memories and the contraction of stored images.
Then, one day, I was driving a car for a rare excursion and unexpectedly encountered the blue fragment of the ocean for a moment. It is an image of the sea that is not constituted of any subtraction or contraction of memories, but is a “bio-scleaves” to the world. It was only possible by the experience with a body.
This is the virtual seed. It becomes a contraction inherited of the memory. But what will be generated from a seed is not a mere memory, it is the full experience of the unbounded world. A seed can sleep for tens of thousands of years, and it begins to be “bio-scleaved” to the world at a critical moment.
* “bio-scleave” is a term invented by poet Madeline Gins in collaboration with artist Shusaku Arakawa in a poem on reverse destiny. It means coupling and de-coupling at a time. The ideas are tightly entangled with being in the world. Read more about their ideas here http://www.reversibledestiny.org/
On Space Station
LIQUIFER Systems Group
Good morning TP! Is it ok to call you TP instead of traveling plant? Here on Space Station, we use abbreviations a lot. I am in the midst of preparing your arrival. We have this really nice greenhouse which will become your home soon. It is lit through special LED lights and we can adjust the light spectrum so that it is most beneficial to your well-being. Your meals will be delivered by a special nutrition delivery system, providing you with fine-tuned snacks directly to your roots which you can relax under a cover in the dark. So, you see that we have a 5-star place prepared for you. Ventilation is secured, too and I look so much forward to exchange with you some Carbon Dioxide for Oxygen. We will both feel so elevated floating in co-dependency. Noise might be a problem but I can assure you that the location of the greenhouse is in the more silent part of the space station. It is such an honor to welcome you up here aloft and thanks so much for making this tremendous effort to come here. Have a safe launch and splendid trip, see you soon, B. yours.
Yeah, I know
Expanding Rose looked at the tall vase in her hands and felt uncomfortable. She walked over to the window and reflected on her lush surroundings. She had always loved opulent Vertical Forest with its teeny-tiny, sparkling trees, houses, rivers. It was a place that encouraged her tendency to feel vaporous. Then she saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Pineapple Jack, a courageous elephant with dirty lips and fluffy fingers. Expanding Rose gulped. She glanced at her own reflection. She was a deranged water drinker with spiky arms and vast hair. Her friends saw her as a teeny-tiny, knotty tree. Once, she had even helped a squishy toddler cross the road. But not even a deranged plant was prepared for what Pineapple Jack had in store today. The rain hammered like jogging humming birds, making Expanding Rose excited. As she stepped outside and Pineapple Jack came closer, she could see the freshly-squeezed glint in his eye. Pineapple Jack gazed with the affection of 2652 generous old ostriches. He said, in hushed tones, “Arborescence!” Expanding Rose looked back, even more excited. “Pineapple Jack, when I saw plants in Jupiter, I wondered,” she replied. They looked at each other with miraculous feelings, like two frail flamingos bouncing at a very rainbowy opening of the Space Garden, which had trance music playing in the background and two understanding uncles swimming to the beat. Expanding Rose regarded Pineapple Jack’s dirty lips and fluffy fingers. “I feel the same way!” revealed Expanding Rose with a delighted grin. Pineapple Jack looked empathic, his emotions blushing like a chilly, colossal cachepot. Then Pineapple Jack came inside for a nice drink of water. “One for the road,” he said.
Art&Science PhD Researcher, Artist, Cultural Manager
Bulgaria is situated in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The country has a rich biodiversity, encompassing 542 different plant habitats; 96 of which are endemic, with a further 166 included in the Red Listing. Its 110,994 square kilometers of territory is divided into 20 floristic regions and 14 sub-regions – ranging from coastal areas, lowlands and valleys to hills, mountains and alpine areas. The Bulgarian flora comprises 4,102 vascular species, including 498 Bulgarian and Balkan endemic species and 719 mosses. The plants represent three of the known phytogeographic areas: European deciduous forest area; Eurasian steppe and forest-steppe area; and Mediterranean sclerophyllous forest area.
Unfortunately – despite Bulgaria’s biodiversity, natural reserves and parks, the Red Listings for endangered and extinct species, and Natura 2000 mapped territories – the future of the local ecosystems is unstable. To some extent this problem stems from the fact that the scientific community is underrepresented in the government, and their ecological evaluations and conservational practices are not taken into account. The excessive use of pesticides, frequent water contamination, deforestation, and the growing number of the arable lands, only add to the risks that Bulgarian natural areas are facing at the moment.
Artist of the Floating World
London, United Kingdom
Creative Producer, Curator & Writer
Named after a British queen. You have inspired the roof of a crystal palace. Caused wars over your name. Become the insignia of Guyana. Staged a song cycle. Been a spectacle in your own right. Your flowers are white the first night. Turn pink the second. Then they die.
In your time you have lived many lives and travelled across many of the world’s oceans. By land. By air. By hand even. Yet still humans insist you only began to exist on this earth when they announced you as a ‘discovery’ in the Amazon in 1801. And yet, you are known to have lived when the dinosaurs roamed. You are resilient, strong and brave, and can transform into many things – a cradle, a bed, a stage, a roof, a boat – as big as 2.70metres wide.
What advice can be given to such a great time and world traveller like you? Maybe only this. That as the ice sheets melt and the oceans rise, it is essential you find a way to survive and thrive in salt water. For yourself and all beings. Because you will become a life raft, a refuge, a floating cosmos for all beings. You are – Victoria.
Beryozka (Little Birch tree)
Barcelona, Spain; originally from Russia
Producer, cofounder of Quo Artis
Dear Plant, you have traveled for millions of years, have heard many stories and are probably aware that some countries have you as their national symbol. Usually it happens because the native population feels connected to a certain tree from long before its country was established officially.
And sometimes this deeply rooted emotional trees-humans relationship can be used as an emblem of a paradoxical situation.
Do you remember the country that no longer exists, USSR?
I happened to be born in its capital. During my childhood one of your family members, the Little Birch, was a name of a retail chain, where a vast variety of goods was sold. In no other shop of this communist –therefore ascetic– country you could find such an extensive choice of food, books and luxury accessories. This shop had another particularity: only foreign currency was accepted there. And here comes the paradox – soviet citizens were not allowed to own foreign currency! “Little Birch” was a showcase of nonexistent abundancy for the visiting delegations from abroad and for those few privileged Soviet citizens who could travel abroad.
My green friend, continue your journey and don’t laugh too loudly when you meet some of us. Humans have not been around for as long as you and are still learning.
The flower on the coin
Associate Professor of Department of Chemistry, City University Hong Kong
Coins of other nations show their heroes’ faces. Ours have flowers, from a plant called Bauhinia blakeana.
About 130 years ago, missionary Père Jean Marie Delavay visited Hong Kong from Haute-Savoie, via Guangdong, Sichuan and Yunnan. One day he saw a strange plant outside a desolated house. He bought a cutting home. No one knew what it was.
“Blakeana” was named after Henry Arthur Blake, governor of Bahamas (1884-1887), Newfoundland (1887-1888), Jamaica (1889-1897), Hong Kong (1898-1903) and Ceylon (1903-1907).
Bauhinia blakeana cannot produce seeds. Every blakeana in the world came from the original plant, through an unbroken chain of cutting and grating. No one knows who decided to do that first.
Genetic studies show that blakeana came from a chance fertilisation between two related species, Bauhinia purpurea, widely grown in the Americas and Pacific, and Bauhinia variegate, widely grown in India. No one knows how that happened.
Our hero has no reason to exist. It came from illicit sex between cousins, discovered by a French, named after an Irish, proliferated by the Chinese. The original plant should have died unnoticed. Yet, through a series of global accidents, it stays on, and flowers everywhere in this little strange city.
Iceland, c. 1000
Researcher, Department of Literature, History of Ideas and Religion, University of Gothenburg
You will be arriving by boat. Over the wave-peaks the rugged coast gives way to the glacier-clad interior. That interior is best avoided. The fertile strip around the coast is the most hospitable for you. But as you come ashore, cast your roots down and feel the nutrients in the soil, tephra, spewed from the many volcanic vents. Good for you, but in this fertile soil there is also a relative scarcity of thriving vegetation. At around the time that the last heavy ash-rains coated this island, visitors arrived on boats like the one you came on. They needed trees to construct houses and ships. Your plant-siblings have a hard time here since this colonisation. The northern climate too poses problems, but while you’ll notice a chill in the air, you’ll be able to feel the sun’s rays upon your leaves for much longer than normal in the summer. Consider this adventure-tourism: many human visitors will in the future. Your stay may not be laid-back and sultry, but perhaps you are not a laid-back and sultry plant. A human being, looking at you, might think that not much is happening. But looks can be deceiving…
South Bend, Indiana, USA
Good Morning My Little Seed,
You have been waiting here in the dark and the cold. For you, this has been a safe place. It lets you know that it is not yet time to go forth.
But now you are ready. I brought you here in my pocket to help you grow. Now it is time to send you home. I have covered you in clay from your homeland, so that you wait till the right time to sprout. Until then, you need to be patient. You will have a long journey ahead of you.
When you were first collected, I brought you to the lab, to teach you how to grow more, so that you would never be hurt again. Every seed is part of it’s mother tree and they have been hurt. You, will be strong.
Your clay coat will protect you from the heat and the birds and other animals. They are your friends, but you need to get to where you are going first. Then you can meet them.
Another reason for your coat is the humans. They… like you when they like you. They aren’t bad, but they are sometimes confused. You will touch many hands, and pass through many machines. Luckily, a seed to them, is just a seed.
But you, my darling, are A Pioneer. You will cross the ocean through the sky. Slip under the noses of the dismissive. You will eventually find the hands of the caring. And if not that, then you will find your own space.
We have eaten up the world, but you will help bring it back. My Little Pioneer, it will be rough, but you are ready. Your new frontier is the wreckage of the unsustainable past. Go become a forest!
Singapore is the strange child of the Southeast Asia family. Many popular and trendy houseplants like Southeast Asia for its humidity, warmth and bright sun, but those in Singapore find themselves yearning. Our forests are made of concrete buildings and our rivers are made of asphalt. Because of that, it is not as humid here as Southeast Asia should be, and you will find some of the local houseplants developing thirsty, crispy tips.
The one exception is the Bougainvillea glabra who, in defiance of the dry city air, blooms ever so aggressively. It leads a convoy of less-coveted landscaping plants that are unnaturally transplanted next to each other. They say their positions are decided to subliminally direct flow – of humans, objects and information. Some fortunate native plants take refuge in nature reserves, although they are managed strategically too with human eyes in mind.
In Singapore, the friendliest plants you will meet are trees. They host all sorts of epiphytic plants like Dischidia, Epiphyllum and Asplenium, and protect them with regulated shade and humidity from their canopies. Landscape companies hired by the state trim down all sorts of plants, but trees will always stand. You will be safe with a tree.
Curator, Researcher on Art, Science and Technology, Central Academy of Fine Arts
An exceptionally long summer exhausts all, in their respective physical and emotional cells. Exhaustion transforms into nutrition, not to the homo sapiens, but to the plantation.
An exceptionally moist summer exhausts, indulges, and lures me. Why’d you come, at this checkpoint of space-time? No coordinates were marked, no rehearsal was conducted, the plant just arrives – I never saw it landing, I heard it, just like the world hears the outburst cry of a newborn.
Beijing is never an easy place to survive, I’m glad that you are taking slow and subtle steps – if “step” is the right word? We’re so distant from naturalists’ time that we even lack the capabilities to tell the difference between plum blossom and sakura. But dear plant, I need to know your name – the scientific one, and the legendary ones.
How could I possibly cross the labyrinth ring-roads and the steel structures, or zigzag in the Hutongs, without hurting you? I used to cycle around the city on the fourth ring road, it took me nearly eight hours. That’s the scale of the city. Could you feel the scale of time in the same way, by letting it cycling within you?
After all, I navigate in space, and you navigate in time.
Maria Manuela Lopes
Welcoming a traveling plant is a challenge in interspecies communication. As an artist I am familiar with fictional propositions, and as an artist in a scientific lab I am also familiar with the way in which natural organisms have been hybridized with technology; thus, blurring boundaries are my daily life. I feel blessed by your visit. Here in Porto (Portugal) at the top of the cliff and with the Atlantic Ocean in front you, you might think that the world is over, but it’s just Europe touching the Atlantic Ocean. If you look around you may decide where to rest and do feel welcome. You will find here different settlements for plants and also varied categories and species (grass, fruit trees, fruit bushes, vines, aromatic plants a large laurel and of course flowers). The aroma is intense on these summer afternoons. Rest for a while and keep me company, tell me about your journey. You may rest in a flower bed, in a plant vase or in a planter. I will water you in case it gets too warm, but the evenings usually bring a natural humidity that will fill you with dew, I might still catch in the morning if I wake up early. In case you want to visit around I will advise you to jump the wall two streets north, towards the Botanic Garden where you will find many other species and a wonderful garden with camellias, plantains, linden trees, oak trees and water lilies, and most importantly a bronze statue that, at night, is filled with life and wisely and kindly reigns over all plants. You may have fun there! Once, I read they have night parties where plants dance and gossip about the silly hierarchical world Humans live in, oblivious of the symbiotic experience they share with other species.
Like a flower of the skin
Ikerbasque Research Professor of Philosophy, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU)
To you, orchid, I whisper: “Like a flower of the skin.” I graft this expression onto English from other, Romance languages. À fleur de peau, a flor de piel, à flor da pele. I graft it, also, like a flower onto the skin—a plant part onto an animal or a human organ.
One of its possible English renditions is “skin-deep,” that is, not deep at all, situated right on the surface, essentially superficial. An exteriority that is sensitive and sensuous, emotional and passionate: being on edge, easily set off by any little thing, but also being super-delicate, awash in raw sentiment.
If you experience the world à fleur de peau, its stimuli impressed on the outermost casing of an outermost organ, then you exhibit a heightened attunement to your environment. Like flowers with their skin.
I am running out of space, of words, of air, of breath. A parting provocation, then. Try not only to live but also to think “like a flower of the skin”! How is this possible? You, orchid, know it much better than I do. There is no set answer, save for a continual practice of honing the sensitivity of thought, grazed on its surface by…
Hello brave and intrepid traveller, welcome to our island home. There are many exciting highlights to observe, in terms of landscape and natural history that would be of interest to a curious plant like yourself. See our magnificent kelp forests underwater, sacred groves, blanket bogs and heath on the high ground. The strong winds and low light in the winter make it difficult for plants to grow easily in exposed locations, but if you head inland you will find some magical places in the nooks and crannies where nature has found a way to flourish.
Remember, that by observing this landscape you have the capacity to affect it – so tread lightly. Unfortunately, much of the natural environment you find today has been significantly impacted by human activities, warming, pollution and the introduction of invasive species. If you had been here 10, 000 years ago, you would have found yourself in a very different place. With the retreat of the ice and following the later arrival of humans, this landscape began to change dramatically. Historically, much of the island was covered in temperate rainforest, with plants and trees as rich as the tropics, home to a diverse fauna including bears and wolves and Irish elk. Early human inhabitants depended upon the natural environment for food, shelter and resources. In pre-Christian Ireland, trees had a particular place in the culture and traditions. In more recent times, much of this forest was felled to make way for agriculture, or timbers for ships as human industry developed. Most of what you can see today are fast growing conifers, rather than native trees. Some native woodland still persists in pockets that are inaccessible, relatively free from the impact of human activity – these places are few and far between.
My advice to you is to get off the beaten track, and to move slowly – pay attention to the small things, respect the customs and you will be richly rewarded. Good Luck.
For many visitors to the capital city of Denmark, the first sights are those of the island of Amager, home to Copenhagen airport and the entrance to Drogden tunnel which, together with the famous Øresund bridge, links Denmark to the Scandinavian peninsula. While many visitors quickly move on to the city centre, located on the island of Sjælland, Amager offers several places of interest to tourists and locals alike. Between former industrial site Refshaleøen, currently attracting hip young crowds with street food venues and music festivals, and Kalvebod Fælled, formerly seabed, now a large wetland which serves as a pit stop and nesting ground for a big number of migratory bird species, Amager can be seen as a Denmark in miniature, hosting both a traditional, fishing town of Dragør and contemporary urban architecture in Islands Brygge, welcoming both beachgoing party crowds and solitude-seeking fishermen. Amager Fælled, a swampy grove just a stone’s throw from central Copenhagen provides good insight to the flora of the island, characteristic also to the other parts of the country, with the emblematic rose, hawthorn and blackberry bushes offering fruit to both foragers and the wildlife during dark, windy winter months.
A slushy green and pink cocktail in a white tundra
CEO, Earth2Orbit; Curator, MAD Salon + Lab
When I visited the Antarctic Peninsula three autumns ago with a boatload of artists, I was pleasantly surprised to find blooms of microscopic grow on the surface of ice in pastel hues – caterpillar green, peachy orange and flamingo pink. These algae blooms are expanding as our remotest white tundra is starting to warm up prompting scientists to conduct surveys of snow algae in Antarctica. Apparently, over sixty percent of the blooms are found near penguin colonies because bird guano is an excellent fertilizer. The blooms also demonstrate an affinity for slushy snow. Some live in top layers, others are a little bashful and hide below. Satellite imagery supported by two recent field campaigns revealed a total of 1,679 individual blooms, with the largest covering hundreds of square meters.
So hey, don’t think Antarctica is all snow and penguins. There are the playful seals, gentle humpbacks, krill shoals, swaying planktons, ice fish, sea birds and a growing garden of algae that are a vital part of the Antarctic carbon cycle sucking up several hundred tons of carbon each summer.
Concept & Experience Designer at Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre
You are arriving to a land that is a poem. Here, you will find… quietness. When surrounded by silence you will be able to hear even better, sounds that feel as a vibration within. You will come across other travellers, who are not searching for home or trying to reach a destination. These creatures move slow and their journey is smooth like words in the wind. This poem is their home and home is their body. In quietness, they will show you this land that you now arrive to, they will whisper to you and welcome you. They will share with you that wherever you are at, you are home. This land, it is now your poem.
The Alien Colony | A time-travelling warning for senecio inaequidens
Cape Town, South Africa
Before the Europeans steal the uKhahlamba, your names are inkwandlankwandlane, inkondlonkondlwane, impondlampondla, isonki. To maximise colonial exploitation in the area, your habitat will be converted into grazing land for sheep. The wool industry in Europe will boom. Your wafting achenes will get lodged and camouflaged in sheep wool, and sent to factories in Europe to be processed into textiles, where you will germinate.
You become the instigator of much taxonomic confusion, and will be incorrectly identified, often. Eventually the European Scientists settle on the name senecio inaequidens. Around the year 2000, your new homes will be noticeably warmer, making it more comfortable to flourish. You will be branded a neophyte; an alien from the New World. By 2010, you will be considered an Invasive Alien, who has effectively colonised the European Landscape.
The environmental warmth which has aided your opportunistic proliferation, they say, is due to the crude waste from the violent culture of Western Industrialisation – the same culture which brought you here. The Europeans are very concerned about this warming, but seem to have forgotten the violence you have seen and of which you have become a trace. Hang in there; we will need you as a witness.
A Letter to the Traveling Plant from New Zealand
Wellington, New Zealand
Media Artist and Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington
Dear traveling plant, you are going to love visiting Aotearoa – the land of the long white cloud – that is, if you manage to get through immigration. See, New Zealand has learned from the past when settlers brought plants and animals that are now destroying the native ecosystem. But you are not a plant of an invasive species, are you?
Once you get through quarantine you will find yourself in a lush and gorgeous natural environment. From the fjords in the South to the subtropical beaches in the North, Aotearoa has an enchanting landscape to offer. I hope you will come visit me in Wellington, the ‘coolest little capital in the world’. Wellington is small and intimate, alternative and charming. Known for its excellent cuisine and expert baristas, your human friends will find Wellington to be a very yummy place. Of course there are several museums and a lot of cultural heritage to discover. And when you wake up in the morning, you’ll hear the songs of so many birds – bird voices you have never heard before. But most of all, New Zealanders are a genuinely friendly people, with a thoroughly enjoyable humour.
Hope to see you soon in the South Pacific,
“THE DARK SIDE OF GREEN”
Worker in the Visual Branch of Anthropology (Artist)
After all the artist creative process is, for many aspects, similar to a kind of foraging: picking here and there fragments of ideas, suggestions, traditions, materials, colours, works of other artists. So, the artist is, par excellence, a sort of educated forager, by vocation and by destiny.
For many thousands years the staple of human beings was assured through foraging. Wandering, migrating, foraging: that was mainly the human way of life before the slow beginning of agriculture, likely a behaviour pattern still deeply rooted in human experience. Hunting was actually a quite rare opportunity, an occasional activity. Surviving related for ages by far on wild plants and vegetables. There was anyway a dark corner: several plants found in the wild were not edible because of their “natural” poison. The story of poisonous botany is an extremely interesting one, full of expressions like “bad reputation”, “dangerous subject”, “check & control”, “be aware!”. A narrative closely mirroring many social issues.
Re-considering artistically the “botanical culprits” might be a proper statement about the importance of the so called “wrong side” (by the way, from these plants an endless variety of medicaments have been successfully extracted).
Jasmine Listening to the Moon
Artist, MFA Artistic Research at Trondheim Art Academy (KiT), Norway
Welcome dear traveler. There is a secret garden, with an apple tree at the gate. Wild grasses and small purple flowers. Comenius will show you the way. Follow the path to Bohemian Platz. Throngs of people flow past on sultry nights like this, eager for momentary encounters of tenderness. Pressing ankles to cheek in the gutters. A silver haired woman tends offerings. Echoes of Morovian exiles.
A richness of swallows will greet you, swoop and dive on silver high plumes of thermals. Look up to find the Blue Rain and Tahitian Dawn, iridescent bougainvillea peeping over the side. The fireflies are dancing in glass jars. Let their light guide you.
I have spent hours watching the sky, reading signs in the clouds. Keeping company with the birds. My limbs are heavy and sink deeper into the earth. A cool moist embrace. Jasmine is thriving, wildly pushing towards the sky, waving fronds tickling the air. Spiral circles, as her green antenna reaches up, listening to the Moon. If you see the Poppy sisters in your travels, bring their seed pods wrapped in lushness, giddy with delight and we will plant them together. Dreaming of a new day, seeding another possible future.
New South Wales, Australia.
Conductor, composer, founding director of the Sydney Chamber Choir
– I have come to make your country more beautiful.
– My country is already beautiful. But you do indeed look fine, with your many coloured blossoms. Who are you?
– My name is Lantana. Originally, I am from South America, but I came here from Europe. In the south of France I am planted to make motorways prettier.
– I don’t understand that. Do you have healing properties? Many plants come here from a place far north of here, which they call the Central Country. Like us, there they know how to use plants for healing.
– No, I am no use for healing. In Europe people make their medicines, they have no more need of plants. I am just very nice to look at.
– You have covered large areas with your scions. Many of our native plants are suffering because you thrive so well.
– Oh, but they are not as pretty as I am, are they?
– My country was full of different plants. Now many have disappeared altogether, those which remain are forced to live in inhospitable places. Could you not somehow give us space?
– But I know this is a big country. Surely there is room for everything?
– Alas, I fear my country has changed forever.
Victoria Sacco Piffer
Co-Director of Quo Artis; Curator & Professor
Rose tells me you’re going on a trip soon, but she didn’t give me many details. How are you travelling? Are you going on your own? With the family? I’ve got lots of questions that you’ll be able to answer in your next tele-thought.
In the meantime, whatever the circumstances, I’d like to give you some advice. If you’re going to Germany, you must visit Cornflower. She’s been there for years; apparently, she’s been made a national figure, and I know she’ll be able to give you some good tips about where to enjoy the sun and find good company. Don’t drink beer! I’ve tried it several times and it’s not very healthy for us.
You also have to go and see Red Clover. It might take you a while to get there—it’s a long way to Denmark, but it’s worth it. She’s another big national personality. She’ll help you recharge, and give you vitamin C, phosphorus and, of course, good luck!
And please come and see me! I miss you. It’s been years since we last saw each other. I live with many companions, all very beautiful and leafy. Our hostess takes great care of us. I’ve been lucky (as you know, it’s not always like this). I’m sure that if she sees you around here she’ll talk to you, too, and water you often, and, of course, we’ll be able to talk in person about everything that’s happened to us.
A great big green hug from your friend,
Me contó Rosa que saldrás de viaje pronto. No me dió muchos detalles ¿cómo viajas? ¿vas sola? ¿en familia? Tengo muchas preguntas que seguro podrás contarme en tu próximo tele-pensamiento.
Mientras tanto, sean cuales fueran las circunstancias, quiero darte algunos pocos consejos:
Si pasas por Alemania, no dejes de visitar a Azulejo. Lleva muchos años allí parece que ha sido declarada figura nacional y sé que puede darte algunas buenas pistas donde tomar el sol y disfrutar de buena compañía. No bebas cerveza, yo la he probado varias veces y al menos a mi no me sentó bien.
Has de ir a ver también a Trebol Rojo. Quizás te demores en llegar. Hay un largo trecho hasta Dinamarca, pero vale la pena. Ella parece ser es otra de las grandes personalidades nacionales. Ella podrá ayudarte a recargar energía, te proveerá de vitamina C, fósforo y, por supuesto, ¡suerte!
Y, por favor, ven a visitarme, te extraño. Ya son muchos años sin vernos. Vivo con muchas compañeras, todas muy hermosas y frondosas. Nuestra anfitriona nos cuida con cariño. He tenido mucha suerte (aunque, ya sabes, no siempre es así). Estoy segura que si te ve por aquí también te dará charla, te regará seguido y, por supuesto, podremos hablar en persona de todas nuestras historias.
Un verde abrazo,
tu amiga Margarita
The silent presence
Saint Petersburg, Russia (nationality: Kazakhstan)
Art historian, head of the Art&Science center at ITMO University
They call me Koeleria macrantha but I call myself P.456, where 456 is the number of nuclear tests conducted at my homeland, Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site (the Polygon), Kazakhstan from 1949 to 1989. I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve felt every single explosion, the total power of which only in its first 15 years was 2500 times higher than the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Sometimes I fear I’ll forget them, so every night I share my memories with the wind. This is my highest duty I believe. Thus, I am happy to welcome you here and show you our beautiful steppe.
Sometimes I hear the joyful noise of children shouting “ispytanie” (Eng. “test”) on the day of the test. This was perhaps the only word they knew in Russian. I reminisce them secretly watching the blinding flashes of light as beautiful mushroom cloud expanded into the sky. They say the Polygon is in the past now, but the truth is it’s still here, I can feel its silent presence. When you arrive you’ll see what I have seen, the silent witnesses – the steppe, the wind, all plants and animals keep their memories alive to share them with you.
The story of one lake
Saint Petersburg, Russia (nationality: Kazakhstan)
Art historian, head of the Art&Science center at ITMO University
Hello my friend,
My name is Balapan, I’m an atomic lake. Yes, I am radioactive, but I hope this won’t petrify you much. My name in Kazakh means a “nestling”. Maybe it’s not the name for an atomic lake, and Lake Chagan, my second name, probably sounds more horrifying, but I’d prefer sweet Balapan. I was born as part of the USSR Peaceful Nuclear Explosion project in the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in 1965. The goal was the bright future of using the results of nuclear explosions for creating artificial water reservoirs, thus solving the problems of summer drought. Sadly, it never happened. And since that very day I’m suffering from being neither dead nor truly alive. Should I mention the pain of bringing death to everything I touch? That’s why I don’t have many friends. I frighten everyone and I am scared too as I do not intend to hurt anyone. Being a true friend to someone is my biggest dream. I heartily hope I could be a friend of yours and listen to your stories about the places you’ve seen. Won’t that be great? Can’t wait to see you soon!
Sometimes magical (yet often wet) getaway for human-indifferent plants
Wetlands, marshes, forest floor covered in damp moss, heavy morning dew, winding riverbanks, lakes and underground springs – Lithuanian landscape is dominated by water in all its forms. As if it wasn’t enough, the land is regularly drenched by rain and snowfall, leading some to believe that the country’s name – Lietuva – derives from ‘lietus’ meaning rain. It is a lily’s paradise, but succulents and cactuses may find it challenging to stay outside unless they take a ferry to the Curonian Spit – a sand dune peninsula at the Baltic Sea.
The best time to travel is June, when you can catch a pagan midsummer celebration. Try ending up in a wreath and travelling down the river current or help search for the mythical blooming fern. If you are not too much into human rites, finding human-free peace and quiet is more than probable – the country is very scarcely inhabited. Yet, you may run into wild herbivore animals such as moose and wood bison, whose presence can be equally imposing. Very deep into the forest, you may encounter magical deities such as Ievaras, the guardian of plants, or Rūgutis, a deity of fermentation, so pay attention not to go out in bubbles!
Nature as Affective Memory
Nara Cristina Santos
Santa Maria, RS, Brasil
Professor, Research Laboratory in Contemporary Art, Technology and Digital Media (LABART), University of Santa Maria
Dear PLANT, on this trip you can find other plants, native to different countries, to share experiences. In Brazil, you can know an Avenca. – For the past twenty years, I have been an ornamental plant in an apartment garden. Others maidenhair fern like me didn’t survive the summer of 40 celsius degrees in Santa Maria, the south of the country, even though someone watered us once a week, when my caregiver was traveling. We maidenhair fern are delicate plants, we like humid places and shade, we inhabit temperate and tropical regions. We are Adiantum, of the Pteridaceae family, described by Carl von Linnaeus as Capillus-veneris. Species Plantarum 2: 1096. 1753. The genus comes from the Greek αδιαντο (unpenetrable) due to the fact we repel water. The specificity comes from the Latin capillus (hair) of Venus (veneris). I am in this garden because I integrate my caregiver’s affective memory. When she visited her maternal grandmother’s country house, in the natural landscape by a river, maidenhair fern indicated the path of those who went fishing. Dear PLANT, I would like to invite you, Avenca and whoever else is interested in a transdisciplinary exhibition, combining art, science and technology to discuss sustainability.
Natureza como memória afetiva
Querida PLANTA, nesta viagem você pode encontrar outras plantas, nativas de países diferentes, para compartilhar experiências. No Brasil, você pode conhecer a Avenca. – Nos últimos vinte anos, fui uma planta ornamental no jardim de um apartamento. Outras avencas iguais a mim não sobreviveram ao verão de 40 graus em Santa Maria, no sul do país, ainda que alguém nos regasse uma vez por semana, quando minha cuidadora viajava. Nós avencas somos plantas delicadas, gostamos de lugares úmidos e sombra, habitamos regiões temperadas e tropicais. Somos Adiantum, da família Pteridaceae, descrita por Carl von Linnaeus como Capillus-veneris. Species Plantarum 2: 1096. 1753. O gênero vem do grego αδιαντο (impenetrável) devido ao fato de repelirmos água. A especificidade vem do latim capillus (cabelo) de Vênus (veneris). Estou neste jardim porque integro a memória afetiva da minha cuidadora. Quando ela visitava a casa de campo da sua avó materna, na paisagem natural da beira de um rio, avencas indicavam o caminho de quem ia pescar. Querida PLANTA, gostaria de convidar você, Avenca e quem mais se interessar para uma exposição transdisciplinar, unindo arte, ciência e tecnologia para discutir a sustentabilidade.
An Adventure Against Culture
Ekaterina Nikitina & Nikita Sazonov
Curators, Posthuman Studies Lab
Sosnowsky’s Hogweed grows along the east side of the Main Caucasian Ridge reaching the South-West and East Transcaucasia. In 1944 Soviet botanist Ida Mandenova found and described the species as a plant with giant stem, branchy umbrella, yellowish-green flowers and fleshy phototoxic leaves which touching is dangerous in a time of flowering.
Since the discovery giant hogweed became a strategic plant for the post-war agriculture based on agrobiological introduction of new species into economy. Hogweed served as a silage plant and was subjected to a set of agrobiological experiments in order to achieve a high crop yield. Tons of agricultural equipment collected tons of hogweed seeds and sowed new terrains with the plant. Cows and pigs were forced to eat the toxic leaves that juice gave their milk a bad taste. The issue of impact and danger of phototoxins had really been brought into the limelight only to 1980s. By that time, hogweed acquired frost susceptibility and increased the possibilities of self-seeding.
Today Sosnowsky’s Hogweed, or “rising against culture”, or “the revenge of Stalin”, grows on junkyards, in industrial fields, on abandoned territories of former factories and oil extraction areas, it spreads along the roads and deserted agricultural lands, it breaks into dachas and occupies kitchen gardens. Soviet scientist and Soviet worker, tractor driver and student of agricultural college abandoned that territories leaving behind hordes of experimental hybrids which today make the map of ecological misbalance of post-Soviet landscape.
46°12’08.7″N 8°40’28.0″E Loco / Onsernone Valley / Ticino / Switzerland
Dramaturg & Performance Studies Scholar
There are some places on the planet where it makes so much sense to be a plant- and nothing else. One of these places is the village Loco in the lower Onsernone Valley in the Canton Ticino. Sun, water and a great soil are vastly available, also many ants, bees and other insects. There is hardly any pollution, only the concentration of CO2 may be low at some days, also will you not find any industrial farming around. One of the best things in that valley of forests and wild rivers are the thousands of stones that the indigenous people (about 700 persons; farmers, basket weavers, wine makers, …) were (and are) using for the constructions of houses, paths, small walls, terraces, bridges and roofs. This grey-glittering gneiss is a quite heavy stone (almost three tons per cubic meter) with great characteristics not only for construction – but they are able to retain the warmth of the sun for some hours while they will keep humidity of the last thunderstorm in the soil underneath. All in all – you will find yourself in an environment that reminds you much more of tropical mountains in South East Asia than of an Alpine setting – and you will easily understand that also some other species (humans, animals, etc.) choose this destination to refill their soul-tanks.
Beyond the Mountains and Remote Valleys
Wels, Austria (Upper Austrian Central Region)
Independent Curator and Researcher
Coming to Austria, you’ll probably think of mountains and valleys, a paradise that provides habitats for any kind of you. But especially in the less mountainous areas, as the place where I live, you’ll find a lot of concrete on the plains and few hills. Be aware that urban sprawl is dominating, an overall splinter development of these regions, but also exploitation of your most favorable soil. In many of these areas, most of you left. Some are endangered as human settlements and industry changed the soil and limited the landscape drastically.
But that doesn’t mean you come to a hostile environment! On contrary. Many of us humans find great solace in bonding with plants. Some want to help you repopulate the local environment, like I do in my garden, so that you again can fill the environment with the beauty that feels long lost. Do not hesitate to occupy the loose gravel left bare by human treasure hunters and build an alliance with those who were strong enough to survive. Visit and join forces. Don’t forget to make your relatives dream of places that you’ve seen on your travels, inspire them to regain seemingly lost territory and ruined land!
Prima Bella Sarra (1)
Prima Bella Sarra comes from a line of a genetically modified “plantimal”; an hybrid of the purple Sarracenia, an herbaceous carnivourous plant, the floral emblem of the Newfoundland and Labrador Province. Bioluminescent and songatarian, it knows how to imitate the songs, the colours and the movements of the love parades from female birds which songs it covets. This plantimal needs three successive cycles to achieve its growth: aquatic, aerial and terrestrial. Its leaves, when the plant is adult, are closing upon themselves and are contracting to allow its vocal veins to make an infinite combination of sounds. It is its extraordinary capacity to mimic the songs in order to secure its travelings that allowed me to experiment an unprecedent interspecies communication with the Prima Bella Sarra that took the form of successive exchanges of synchronous and asynchronous songs.
(1) As a tribute to the short story Prima Belladonna by JG Ballard published in 1971 in which a plant-animal covers 24 octaves.
(2) Neologism coming from the words “plant” and “animal” used by the Brazilian artist Eduardo Kac to name Edunia, an artwork he created between 2003 and 2008. The flower is an hybrid between the artist and a petunia.
(3) Neologism to name which feeds from songs and melodic vibrations.
Prima Bella Sarra (1)
Prima Bella Sarra est issue d’une lignée de « plantimales (2) » génétiquement modifiées, hybride de la Sarracénie pourpre, plante herbacée carnivore, emblème floral de la province de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador. Fleur noctiluque et mélovore (3), elle sait imiter les chants, les couleurs et les mouvements de parade amoureuse de femelles d’oiseaux dont elle convoite les chants. Cette plantimale dont les feuilles, à l’âge adulte, se referment sur elles-mêmes et se contractent pour permettre à ses vaisseaux vocaux d’émettre une combinaison infinie de sons, a besoin de 3 cycles successifs, aquatique, aérien et terrestre pour accomplir sa croissance. C’est cette extraordinaire capacité à imiter les chants pour assurer ses itinérances qui m’a permis d’expérimenter une communication inter-espèce inédite avec la Prima Bella Sarra, sous la forme d’échanges successifs de chants synchrones et déphasés.
(1) En hommage à Prima Belladonna de JG Ballard, nouvelle parue en 1971 dans laquelle une plante-animale couvre 24 octaves.
(2) Néologisme issu de la contraction des mots « plante » et « animal » utilisé par l’artiste brésilien Eduardo Kac pour son œuvre Edunia. Cette fleur créée entre 2003 et 2008 par génie génétique est un hybride de l’artiste et d’un pétunia.
(3) Néologisme pour décrire qui se nourrit des chants, des vibrations mélodiques.
“Why we are traveling“
Curator, Science Gallery Melbourne, embedded within the University of Melbourne
We flew through space in group; as do fishes or birds. Like an alive space-ship, we are made of intelligent design. The heavier drives the group. That is elementary physics. We invented math and we use it to shape our body to travel, to grow and to adapt ourselves to the place we land. As we are made of water and so we attract water, we end up to arrive on Earth. There, we discovered animal cells. We raised them to make them more useful and bigger. We invented chemistry to slave them and one day, we gave them a bit of our intelligence and you appeared as Mankind. With time, as they discovered your addiction, some plants called the cereals manipulated you in order to destroy the forest and to propagate their grass all over this planet. As you already know, plants can force you to kill yourself with addiction. But be aware: We are the forest seeds; we are flying from space to create you on earth like a mother and we came in peace. We are just traveling to love.
You enter in the semi-darkness of a séance. A woman is stirring the air with her hands. She suddenly leans towards the ground as her body jerks. In her palms, one of yours has appeared. Sometimes, these “apports”* fly through the air, jostle the sitters in the face, land on their lap, or glide on the surface of the table.
The production of such supranatural plants is one of the most puzzling features of mediumistic phenomena. They are described as a spontaneous materialization of a fluidic double reproducing molecule by molecule the whole body of a plant. The flowers seem to suffer no ill effects from their strange mode of traveling. They appear with their entire details, freshness, and fragrance to the assembly.
The first recorded observation is to be found in the Correspondance sur le magnétisme vital entre un Solitaire et M. Deleuze (Paris, 1839). Elemér Chengery Pap, chemist at the Hungarian Civil Service, later gathered a voluminous collection of these supranatural curiosities, including various objects as well as small animals and botanical specimens. I would have encouraged you to visit these singular siblings in the Metapsychic Museum of Elemér Chengery Pap if only they had not burnt in a fire, at the end of the Second World War. However, if you travel to Budapest you may encounter the last trace of their ashes.
*From the French “to bring”
Tu te glisses dans la pénombre d’une séance. Une femme brasse l’air de ses mains. Puis, elle se penche soudainement vers le sol tandis que son corps est pris de soubresauts saccadés. Au creux de ses paumes, apparait l’une des tiennes. Parfois, ces « apports végétaux » traversent les airs, heurtent les convives au visage, se déposent sur leurs genoux ou se glissent à la surface de la table.
La production de ces plantes surnaturelles fait partie des attributs les plus déconcertants des phénomènes médiumniques. Elles sont décrites comme une matérialisation spontanée d’un double fluidique reproduisant molécule par molécule toutes les parties d’un végétal. Elles ne semblent pas souffrir des effets néfastes de leur étrange mode de déplacement et apparaissent avec l’ensemble de leurs détails, leur fraicheur et leur parfum, devant l’assemblée des assistants.
La première observation connue est à trouver dans la Correspondance sur le magnétisme vital entre un Solitaire et M. Deleuze (Paris, 1839). Le chef chimiste du Service Civil hongrois, Elemér Chengery Pap rassemblera plus tard une volumineuse collection de ces curiosités surnaturelles, incluant des objets, des animaux de petites tailles ainsi que des spécimens botaniques.
Je t’aurais encouragé à leur rendre visite si seulement elles n’avaient succombé dans un incendie avec le reste de la collection à la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Néanmoins, si tu visites Budapest, tu retrouveras peut-être quelques traces de leurs cendres.
Immigration Advice for the Stinging Nettle
Los Angeles, California, USA
For this dangerous journey – you will encounter many enemies and evil people who will mistake you for a weed so you will have to be very careful and use your magical powers prudently.
Remember to take along the talisman of Thor, the god of thunder who is your protector. Those who are getting in your way may be struck with lightning in one form or another. If you encounter a black swan, take the time to break the spell as this may be the person who will help you on the journey. Also make sure to pack a bag of seeds that you will throw to create your protective community whenever you finally arrive to your destined land.
You may have to get a job while waiting for your green card, so use your healing gifts and offer your services especially to those suffering from inflammation and rheumatism. They will be grateful for your prickly medicine and further aid you to your destination. Although you don’t know where you will land with these unpredictable winds, the fairies can shift the currents in your favor.
Once you finally land on fertile ground that feels like home, reach out to local witches who appreciate your powers to ward off various form of evil sorcery. Gift them the seeds to plant just before springtime and you will prosper when your community arises with the power of the green.
Cristian A. Zaelzer-Pérez
Scientist, Graphic Designer, Artist, Science communicator, and educator. Founder and President of the Convergence Initiative, Montreal, Canada. Research Associate at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. Montreal, Canada. Part-time Faculty and Science-Art Advisor for the Faculty of Fine Arts of Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.
Welcome to the North and South doors of the Americas, Bienvenue au Canada, Bienvenida a Chile. I am going to be your guide and give you some travel advice. First of all, we have to make sure that your documents are in order. Our continent is a delicately balanced community, and careless seeds can be a problem. But everybody is so excited about your visit. Maybe you already know that our Americas are a land of contrasts. Get ready to experience colours like no other place, and family members like you have never seen before. From the majestic sequoias connecting Earth and heaven to the humble a resilient deschampsia in the Antarctic fields. From the saguaros, arms rose to the sun in the dry desert, to the tillandsias, floating in the air feeding on jungle dreams. Cochayuyos in the ocean will make you reimagine forests while flavours inland will bedazzle you. I will bring you to the big plant’s metropolis, tropical and template jungles where it is impossible to see the sunlight. We will chat in infinite extensions of grassland and travel carried by the aromas of our beloved spices. We are so excited that you are here.