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BILDMUSEET 27/09 202011/04 2021

GROUND CONTROL/

ENG


27/09 11/04

GROUND CONTROL /

INTRODUCTION

The exhibition Ground Control explores connections between plants, politics and history. It brings together works by contemporary artists who are interested in the political dimensions of botany: plants as a commodity, the circulation of plants around the world, and their classification. Viewing the history of humans through the prism of botany raises questions about power, the future, and the role of humans in the living world. Trade, the building of empires, and globalisation have led to seeds and plants moving among continents and leaving traces in nature, language and knowledge. In many cases, the scientific mapping of species has taken place hand in hand with the West’s hunt for new territories to conquer. Contributing artists: Maria Thereza Alves, Gerd Aurell, Hanan Benammar, Céline Condorelli, Suzanne Husky, and Mónica de Miranda. The exhibition is produced by Bildmuseet. Curators: Clelia Coussonnet and Sofia Johansson.


GROUND CONTROL /

CLELIA COUSSONNET SOFIA JOHANSSON

The exhibition Ground Control explores issues in the intersection of botany, politics and history. By exploring the circulation routes of plants, in the framework of botanical politics, we have put together the exhibition Ground Control in an attempt to shift the perception of what is local and natural, and that might actually be imported and constructed. It entices us to reconsider our surroundings beyond borders and understand their political entrenchment. As opposed to ideas of a ‘pure’ and uncontaminated vegetation, the artworks presented explore plants as witnesses and cultural imports, reflecting the continuous fluxes, frictions and permeations that shape our political, economic and natural environments. The artworks also emphasize visible and invisible imprints left locally on flora, language, knowledge and bodies affected by such circulation. Plants’ connection to world politics may be exemplified in the history of colonialism. The development of naturalist expeditions were intimately connected to the Western imperial conquest and competition in the 16th–18th centuries. The documentation of plants and mapping of territories subsequently led to their occupation and plundering. Botanical gardens had a number of functions in this context. They were hierarchical spaces in which plants from all over the world were labelled, categorised and admired. In the Empires and in their colonies, botanical gardens became strategic power markers, as well as trade opportunities. During the era of imperial competition, plants were transferred from one environment to another, often transiting through or staying in ‘acclimatisation’ gardens, permanently modifying, sometimes unpredictably, both ecosystems and systems of meanings. In the exhibition, nature as witness to a history of colonization and one of its present day consequences – the fact that many people are living their lives in diaspora, is portrayed by artist Mónica de Miranda in her photographs.


BILDMUSEET FLOOR 6, 4, 1

The application of classification and taxonomy brought further consequences. Old names and knowledge were wiped out and flora became objectified – removed from its original context and displayed in greenhouses, vitrines, cabinets and collections as rarities to be scientifically studied or merely enjoyed, rather than as living agents integrated into people’s routines because of their nutritional, medical, spiritual or magical qualities. Binominal nomenclature represents a will to hierarchize and classify not only nature, but also animals, and sadly humans. The new system of Carl von Linné – the binomial nomenclature1 – eventually became the norm and represented a knowledge valued as encyclopaedic and total, but which mainly one of its present day consequences – the fact that many people are living their lives in diaspora, oral, ancestral and intuitive knowledge. This resulted in a considerable subsequent loss of indigenous plant knowledge, as highlighted in the exhibition by the artworks of artists Hanan Benammar and Maria Thereza Alves. Several pressing questions emerge: What knowledge is valuable for us today? Is it possible to reactivate or reappropriate the names, usages and teachings of language and plants? Ground Control also focuses on the circulation of plants in the world from the perspective of their commodification, as both desirable ornamental elements for individuals and institutions and as profitable resources for corporations. The increased availability of plants contributed to their use in domestic and public spaces, particularly exotic and tropical species, which signalled social prestige and became choice gifts and adornments for parlours. The exhibition presents Céline Condorelli’s series of Plant study prints that document the histories and qualities of some regular house plants that were formerly used to furnish art exhibitions up until the 1970s and are still commonly found in homes and offices. Retracing the history of 1

Carl Linnaeus’ formal system of naming plants


display and ornamentation – the passage of nature from outdoor to indoor as house plants – suggests that the original significations and usages of plants were further suppressed during this domestication process. Flora made its entrance with great pomp in trade circuits, leading to the development of the horticulture industry we know today. Gerd Aurell’s artworks in the exhibition are the result of her research about how the Swedish forestry industry developed during the 20th century – including massive clearcuts and widespread use of the herbicide hormoslyr – which in hindsight proved to cause both major biodiversity loss in forests and disease among forest rangers and locals. In some cases, the current interest in nature’s economic potential has generated unholy alliances between politics, public authorities and businesses to the detriment of the environment, on many occasions demonstrating the supremacy of capitalism over ecological needs. Artists such as Suzanne Husky consistently remind us that we are all connected to Mother Earth and that the exploitation of land also comes at a price; there is a risk of losing what we hold sacred, and a risk of losing knowledge tied to a particular territory. Sadly, the exploitation of nature is often accompanied by pollution, destruction and disruption of the balance of ecosystems. Against this background, we find it encouraging to engage with artists highlighting regenerative practices and activism to protect our common resources.


MARIA THEREZA ALVES /

ARTIST’S NOTE

I began working with plants when I discovered the work of Finnish botanist Heli Jutila, during a conference organised in 1997 by curator Marketta Seppälä and environmentalist Yrjö Haila. Jutila presented her research on ballast flora. I became intrigued by this category of plants of which I knew nothing because of how they arrived unnoticed in ports and, at the same time, are witnesses to an unconventional and far more complex narrative of world history than the one that is usually presented. I then began to develop my first work based on plants: Seeds of Change, for which I was awarded the Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics in 2016. Since then, I have developed several projects on plants and witnessing. I find it particularly pertinent today, especially as we try to develop a decolonial discourse. ‘Decolonization is not a metaphor’ is an interesting quote in this context. It is also the title of an essay by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. After 500 years of colonization in the Americas, it is about time we take a step towards decolonization.


MARIA THEREZA ALVES /

BIOGRAPHY

Maria Thereza Alves’ (b. 1961 Brazil, residing in Berlin, Germany, and Naples, Italy) research-based projects develop out of her interactions with people and places. Refusing to accept Western binary relationships such as those between nature and culture, art and politics or art and everyday life, she actively breaks with these in her relational art projects in favour of focusing on oppressed cultures. Maria Thereza Alves founded the design collective LABINAC together with artist Jimmie Durham, with the dual purpose of designing objects and supporting the crafts of the indigenous peoples of Latin America. As a member of the International Indian Treaty Council, in 1978 Alves appeared before the UN Commission on Human Rights, where she gave a presentation on violations of the human rights of indigenous peoples in Brazil. Alves was one of the founders of Partido Verde do Estado de São Paulo. She has had solo exhibitions at MUAC in Mexico City, Mexico, and CAAC in Seville, Spain, and participated in the Biennale of Sydney, Toronto Biennial of Art, Manifesta 7 and 12, the 29th and 32nd Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, the Sharjah Biennial 13 and Documenta 13. Her book Recipes for Survival was published by the University of Texas Press in 2019.


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WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION

Maria Thereza Alves Through the Fields and into the Woods, 2007 Sculpture (iron, chains) Maria Thereza Alves’ wrought-iron sculpture Through the Fields and into the Woods depicts “some of the flora of a European forest” climbing on a structure like a gate or fence. That said, many of the depicted plant species have arrived in Europe from other parts of the world and become embedded in the existing vegetation. History has thereby written itself directly into existing vegetation, modifying ecosystems, and can be traced in the hybrid flora. Many of Maria Thereza Alves’ works examine the circulation of both people and plants around the globe. The sharp forms of the sculpture are both beautiful and menacing, raising ideas about borders and freedom of movement. Courtesy of Galleria Alfonso Artiaco, Naples.

Maria Thereza Alves “When they come, flee”, said my Grandmother to my Mother. “When they come, flee”, said Mother to Me., 2014 Sculptures (bronze) This pair of bronze sculptures are shaped like jackfruit, the fruit of a tree native to south-east Asia imported to Brazil by Portuguese colonists to provide cheap food for the indigenous people and Africans they had enslaved. The introduction of alien species and non-indigenous crops had an ecological impact that can still be felt today – the tree is now displacing native flora in some of Brazil’s forests. The quotation from which the work takes its title – “When they come, flee”, said my


MARIA THEREZA ALVES /

Grandmother to my Mother. “When they come, flee”, said Mother to Me. – is a warning, a call to marronage and an attempt to pass on survival skills in order to survive the invasion which resulted in theft of land, slavery based on race, genocide, disease and the disruption of ecosystems. Courtesy of Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo-Junta de Andalucía.

Maria Thereza Alves Orée, 2011 Video, 6:37 minutes The history of the island of Réunion is tightly interwoven with French colonialism. Throughout history, the Creole language spoken on Réunion has been negotiating betweeen various cultures and perceptions of place, nature and the body. The names of plants in particular reflect the impact of slavery on the island’s history. Groups of people fleeing slavery lived hidden in the deep forests of the islands interior. Profound plant knowledge would increase their chances of survival. Maria Thereza Alves realized that it must have been these people who transformed the French language into the Creole spoken on the island today, and conducted a study to discover the original plant names. In the video work Orée [Edge of the Forest], two actors pronounce the Creole names for some of Réunion’s endemic plants (those that are unique to the specific geographic region). Towards the end of the work, there is disagreement over whether the correct name of a tree is “Bois de Négresse” or “faux Bois Demoiselle”. This conflict is rooted in the very different status and value attributed to free white women versus enslaved black women in Réunion’s history. Courtesy of Galerie Michel Rein Paris/Brussels.


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Maria Thereza Alves in collaboration with Maximino Rodrigues (Ke’y Rusú Katupyry) and Michely Vargas (Verá Poty Resakã) Introduction to Decolonizing Botany, 2020 Three watercolours and three botanical signs by Maria Thereza Alves. Three songs by members of the Guarani people from the Jaguapiru Reserve in Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Linnaean binominal nomenclature, the scientific system for naming plants, made it possible to identify species in a manner that could be recognised by scientists around the world; however, in the age of colonialism the original names and local knowledge of plants were often ignored and subsequently lost. The watercolours in this work depict three species found in Brazilian forests that recently have been given new names by the Guarani people of the Jaguapiru Reserve. Some members have also composed honouring songs for each of these plants in an effort to reappropriate them – to make them their own once again. The purpose of these acts of decolonisation is to counter the loss and neglect of names and knowledge. Here, the watercolours and songs are presented with botanical-inspired signs, stating the name of each plant in Guarani with a translation into Southern Sami, as a gesture between indigenous peoples. See English translations below along with the plants’ Latin names. From left to right: [Ctenanthe burle marx] My leaves are humid. I am a plant to be only observed for remembering.


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[Eucharis amazonica] Always beautiful, I am here in the fields and forest, and you high up there, admiring me. [Goethea strictiflora] My leaves cover my tears of sorrow. But they are admired by the other plants.


GERD AURELL /

ARTIST’S NOTE

I think plants and politics are intimately connected. Humans have always had a strong desire to conquer and alter the natural world. In a way, this is what agriculture has always been about. However, over the last 100 years, agriculture has been magnified and turned into an industry. You would think that the forests, particularly the ‘wild’ forests of Northern Scandinavia, are not part of this. But something happened after the introduction in the 1960s of clear-cuts and strong herbicides. The forests were turned into large-scale agricultural fields in which certain trees were regarded as weeds. It has been important for me to work with the issue of plants and politics since the impact of the herbicide hormoslyr in Sweden has largely been forgotten. Its effects are still enormous since generations of deciduous trees were wiped out of the forests of Northern Sweden, leaving us with monocultures of pine and fir. I would recommend Simon Schama’s book Landscape and Memory. I find it very inspiring how Schama moves back and forth through history and geography, art and science. The word landscape means ‘lands that have been shaped’. As Schama writes, ‘landscapes are culture before they are nature; constructs of the imagination projected onto wood and water and rock’.


GERD AURELL /

BIOGRAPHY

Gerd Aurell (b. 1965 in Sweden, resides in Umeå, Sweden) works primarily in drawings, video and installation. Her interest in the performative aspect of drawing has often resulted in large-scale murals or drawing performances. Gerd Aurell works in a number of collaborative constellations, both as an artist and organiser. In 2001, she was one of the founders of the artist-run gallery Verkligheten in Umeå. She is also a senior lecturer at the Umeå Academy of Fine Arts. Her recent exhibitions include: En vacker utställning (in collaboration with Helena Laukkanen), Norrbotten’s County Art Museum, Kiruna; AG Meinschaft, Hilbertsraum, Berlin; TRÄD, Luleå Art Gallery; Between the Airstrip and the Surrounding Forest, Vita Kuben, Umeå and If I Cannot Inspire Love, I Will Cause Fear, Köttinspektionen, Uppsala.


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WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION

Gerd Aurell 2,4-D, 2020 Wall drawing In order to maximize profit, Swedish forestry companies sprayed large areas of the northern Swedish forests with the herbicide hormoslyr from the 1950s until the 1970s, in order to eradicate deciduous trees to make room for more commercially valuable conifers. This was the same defoliant used by the United States during the Vietnam War in the form of Agent Orange, a chemical now known to have caused diseases in both soldiers and civilians. The extensive use of this defoliant in northern Sweden has led to permanent changes in ecosystems and contamination, and posed health risks to both forestry workers and local populations. The mural 2,4-D brings to mind this environmental catastrophe. From a distance, Gerd Aurell’s monumental drawing looks like a large blue splash of colour; come closer, however, and one sees a whirl of many small drawings of stones, branches, pinecones, mosses and lichens – detailed depictions of what the artist found on forest grounds that were once sprayed with hormoslyr. The blue colour itself is a reference to this herbicide which was dyed to make it easier to see where it had been sprayed. The title of the work, 2,4-D, refers to the chemical formula of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, one of the active substances in the herbicide hormoslyr together with 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Although 2,4,5-T was banned in Sweden in 1977, the


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forestry industry was able to continue using 2,4-D until it too was banned in 1979. These prohibitions were introduced after years of debates and massive civilian protests. One of the final manifestations – also presented by Gerd Aurell in a previous work – took place in Aapua in Norrbotten County, where local people and environmental activists occupied a clear-cut to prevent spraying. Gerd Aurell’s extensive research into the use of hormoslyr in Sweden and its consequences is a collaboration with Professor Lars Östlund of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

Gerd Aurell Då kom hormoslyret som en räddande ängel, 2018 [Then Hormoslyr Came Like a Rescuing Angel] Sound, 6 minutes For the sound piece Då kom hormoslyret som en räddande ängel, Gerd Aurell interviewed two retired foresters Bertil Stenlund and Sten-Olov Pettersson, who had previously worked for Domänverket, Sweden’s state-owned forestry company, in Lycksele, Västerbotten County. They describe the naivety and unquestioning compliance that characterised their use of hormoslyr in the early years. They were quite simply convinced that they were acting in the best interests of the forest. The title of the work is a quote from the interview in which one of the men describes his relief when a solution was finally offered to the “birch problem”. Slowly but surely, however, they would come to reflect that they were probably in a “sheltered work environment” in which they failed to recognize the value of biodiversity and to question why some of their colleagues were falling sick and even dying.


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Gerd Aurell Gullviks I, 2019 Gullviks II, 2019 Watercolours Both Gullviks, the company selling the herbicide hormoslyr in Sweden, and the manufacturer BT Kemi, promoted its safe use, most notably when the CEO of BT Kemi in 1975 drank a dose of hormoslyr on national television in Sweden. These watercolours are inspired by an advertising poster from Gullviks. At first glance, Gullviks I looks like a beautiful schoolroom poster of flora and fauna; however, beneath each animal or plant is a recommendation of the type of pesticide one should use to eradicate that particular species. In Gullviks II the green forest running straight through the first image has disappeared, as has all colour apart from brown.

Gerd Aurell Svenska växter, 1995/2020 [Swedish Plants] Drawing, performance Swedish Plants is a performance piece from 1995 which is now recreated in the exhibition. All of the plants from a Swedish botanical book are drawn on a piece of wall, one species on top of the other, until they merge into one single shape. The artist’s intention is to free the plants from the book’s Linnaean structure and organised way of viewing nature,


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returning them to chaos. The artist describes how plant names and plant knowledge is a heritage passed on to her from her mother and grandmother. It was normal for them to bring their botanical book when moving around in nature, and during Gerd Aurell’s childhood walks the names of plants and trees were rehearsed and learnt. They used the classic “Svenska växter” by Björn Ursing and the same book is now used for the drawing at Bildmuseet. The performance takes place during the first week of the exhibition and it is performed by the artist’s daughter Sofia Aurell.


HANAN BENAMMAR /

ARTIST’S NOTE

When I started working with Desert Garden it was out of an interest in medicinal plants that could be found in deserts. It was also an opportunity for me to dissect the landscape while travelling, with each project focusing on different layers, such as botanical in Desert Garden, but also geological, political, historical or spiritual. My interest in botanical studies became ethnobotanical, or the relationship between plants and humans. This relationship quickly brought me to the history of migration and settlements, colonization, land grabbing and neo-colonization, as well as a long history of resilience, raising questions about the materialization of knowledge and forms of knowledge transmission. My own tools, such as archival systems and taxonomy, had yet to be decolonized, but my ambition was to confront my collection of seeds and botanical remains with the traditional museum display, without naming or classifying the samples. Museums are the ultimate symbol of Western culture and knowledge, and its codifications are manifestations of privilege and imperialism. As I repeatedly and methodically collect the visible (what you see in the exhibition) and the invisible (the memories and anecdotes related to these plants), the duration of this project, as much as its continuity, has become increasingly important.


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BIOGRAPHY

Hanan Benammar (b. 1989, Algeria/France, resides in Oslo, Norway) works conceptually on geopolitical, environmental and social issues. Her artistic practice encompasses sound, music and text, field recordings and archival strategies. Travel and fieldwork are important elements of her gathering of information, knowledge, stories, collective memories, myths and rumours. Her projects are process-oriented and carried out over long periods of time. Expressing herself through sound and video installations, performances, concerts, occasional interventions and land art, Benammar’s working methods are primarily inspired by scientific research. She has Master’s Degrees in Fine Arts from both the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in Norway and the Dutch Art Institute in the Netherlands. She is co-creator of and one of the actors in the play Ways of Seeing, which premiered in 2018. Her recent exhibitions include Leave No Stone Unturned [Remuer la terre] at Le Cube – independent art room in Rabat, Morocco, and Vis meg din hage at Kunstnerforbundet in Oslo, Norway. She participated in the 3rd Biennial Land Art Mongolia 360°.


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WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION

Hanan Benammar Desert Garden, 2012 – ongoing

Floor 4

Installation with sound, vitrines, plants and seeds From Chihuahua to Gobi, Mangystau, and Sahara, Hanan Benammar has visited a number of deserts to study vegetation in arid landscapes. She gathers plants and knowledge about them in conversation with local people, combining her artistic endeavours with ethnobotanical ethics. She emphasises that, far from being empty, sterile places, deserts are in a state of flux and are grounds in constant metamorphosis and at the same time they are archives of all beginnings, times and action. Benammar is especially interested in the properties of plants in relation to their local and cultural context. She has gathered stories about the medicinal, nutritional, spiritual and magical properties of endemic plants from indigenous peoples, desert dwellers and migrants. Plants and seeds are displayed in vitrines without classification or hierarchy, yet still in a manner reminiscent of how they would traditionally be exhibited by botanists and scientists. The artist urges us to reconsider which knowledge is valuable and to escape the crave for labelling. So, although she does not expressly share the knowledge she has gathered, she still acts as a symbolic link in the chain of conveyance, thereby making an understated protest about the loss of knowledge as a consequence of the marginalisation, control or even undisguised oppression of desert communities by central authorities. The evolving installation Desert Garden is a tribute to this extensive vernacular knowledge and its resilience. The displays are accompanied by the sound of a rose of Jericho spreading its leaves – a metaphor for the possibility of resurrection.


CÉLINE CONDORELLI /

ARTIST’S NOTE

Houseplants, like most of a museum’s apparatus of visibility, do not appear in the history of art and yet have shared spaces with artworks throughout the history of exhibitions. Historically designed to emulate domestic interiors, public museums once displayed decorative plants, making exhibition galleries more habitable and welcoming. They started disappearing in the 1960s and 1970s. The explicit function of the works that I developed from this research is to make things public – not least art and space. They are simultaneously sculptures and public spaces, artworks that can be inhabited, sat upon, rested on, allowing an intimacy with form that is not normally permitted with cultural objects. Functioning as a public forum that promotes cross subjectivities between plants and humans, they provide transformative interspecies communication. Through these artworks I address the fact that spaces for culture, and spaces for contemporary art in particular, have become uninhabitable, questioning the history of the exclusion of the human body and anything that is alive from the exhibition context.


CÉLINE CONDORELLI /

BIOGRAPHY

The work of Céline Condorelli (b. 1974 in France, resides in Lisbon, Portugal, and London, UK) combines a number of approaches from developing structures for “supporting” (the work of others, forms of political imaginary, existing and fictional realities) to broader enquiries into forms of commonality and discursive sites. She is one of the founders of the artist-run gallery Eastside Projects in Birmingham, United Kingdom, and editor and one of the authors of the book Support Structures, which was published by Sternberg Press in 2009. Her latest exhibitions include Céline Condorelli, Kunsthaus Pasquart, Switzerland; Equipment, Significant Other in Vienna, Austria; Host/Vært Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark; Ausstellungsliege, Albertinum, Germany; Proposals for a Qualitative Society (Spinning), Stroom Den Haag, Netherlands; Corps à Corps, IMA Brisbane, Australia (with a sculpture garden that was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects Art and Architecture Prize). She has also exhibited at the Gwangju Biennale, the Liverpool Biennale of Contemporary Art and the Biennale of Sydney. Her first monograph, bau bau, was published by Mousse in 2017.  


CÉLINE CONDORELLI /

WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION

Céline Condorelli Zanzibar 1:10 Monstera Deliciosa and Schefflera Arboricola, 2018 Sculpture (concrete, soil, plants) Since the beginning of plant trade, tropical species have been uprooted and transported from their native soil and original context, placed in pots and transformed into commodities like any other goods. Céline Condorelli examines the history of plants’ circulation in relation to ornamentation, politics of display, interior design and art history. She examines the connections between politics and botany, taking the domestication of nature as her point of departure, as well as studying architecture and how public spaces are designed, how plants are transported from outdoors to indoors, and how gardens can be viewed as a type of exhibition. Céline Condorelli has created an extensive body of work based on these themes. This sculpture is a 1:10 scale concrete model of a permanent public artwork she created for King’s Cross Station in London. It includes subtropical plants used as interior design details in art exhibitions. Inspiration for the full-scale sculpture and scale model is taken from a restaurant and concert venue in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, designed by the architect Lina Bo Bardi in 1987. Bo Bardi designed the building around an existing mango tree in order to preserve it. Courtesy of Galeria Vera Cortês, Lisbon.


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Céline Condorelli Plant Study series, 2018 Plant Study: Monstera Deliciosa Plant Study: Howea Forsteriana Plant Study: Ficus Lyrata Plant Study: Schefflera Actinophylla Plant Study: Philodendron Scandens Plant Study: Alocasia Sanderiana Six wax prints on drafting film, stained with watercolour and acrylic ink The Plant Study series depicts six tropical plants commonly found as houseplants and that were also common interior design details in art exhibitions up until the 1970s, although their presence is now largely forgotten. Each print reproduces a specific species and shows how it was used in art institutions. In black and white installation images taken at MoMA in New York, the plants can be seen beside paintings by artists such as Picasso and Braque. The work includes information on the plants’ Linnaean classification, their various popular names, where they originate and other places that they can be found, botanical descriptions, stories of imperial or colonial “discovery” and how the plants have subsequently been assimilated into Western natural history. The series also includes notes on the plants’ properties and descriptions of their foliage and durable resistance, as well as notes on why they are well-suited as pot plants – in the home, office, public buildings, shopping centres, hotels, casinos and gardens. The various layers of information show how the plants have been ripped from their native contexts and areas of use, cultivated and transformed


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into commodities, used to raise the social status and value of buildings and as social lubricants in public spaces. Courtesy of Galeria Vera Cortês, Lisbon.   Céline Condorelli Corps à Corps, 2016/2020 Installation with wood, corrugated plastic, metal, plants Reproduction Céline Condorelli has been inspired by Lina Bo Bardi’s modernist architecture and her view of cultural sites as social and collective constructions. This plant installation is both a sculpture and a meeting place for visitors. Corps à corps [the title is a French expression about extreme proximity, meaning “hand to hand” or “in close combat”] consists of a suspended chandelier-like structure for climbing plants and a seating area for visitors – it is designed to be used and activated, unlike many artworks that prohibit touching.

Céline Condorelli Zanzibar Artist book This artist’s book presents four of Céline Condorelli’s works on the garden as exhibition. The book also present the results of Condorelli’s research into a number of plants commonly used as interior design details at MoMA in New York in history and which are still commonly found as decorative elements in homes and public spaces.


SUZANNE HUSKY /

ARTIST’S NOTE

I was offered three gifts when I was young: outdoor time, a pruner and Les Jardins by Michel Baridon. Ever since, I have always had a pruner in my bag and kept learning about agricultural systems. I became a gardener and plant consultant for a landscape designer in California, working for wealthy people together with Mexican co-workers. That is the first point of plants and politics: 1. The social status of the gardener, the primary caregiver of plants and soil is that of cheap, non-valued labour; 2. Non-gardeners have little knowledge of how to interact with their plants, their gardens relates more to real estate value and social status. I was quickly disillusioned by a world in which plants were patterned and mass-produced. But I never left that world, I just stepped into a place where my relation to earth was healthier. I have used my art practice to research the history of landscape, ethnobotany, the politics of weeds and agtech. Other books that have changed my life include Robert Pogue Harrison’s Forests: The Shadow of Civilisation and Kat Anderson’s Tending the Wild – Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources. Anderson deconstructs John Muir’s philosophy of ‘virgin landscapes’. Starhawk is also fundamental for me as she unpacks the correlation between the domination of woman and nature, and teaches about land regeneration, permaculture and eco-spirituality.


SUZANNE HUSKY /

BIOGRAPHY

Suzanne Husky (b. 1975, France, resides in Bazas, France and San Francisco, USA) is a multimedia artist whose work revolves around people’s relationships to natural environments. Inspired by her trainings in permaculture, horticulture and herbalism, her work refers to different cultural representations viewed from the perspective of ethnobotany and plant knowledge. She studies human relationships to plants and land from various perspectives, from natural medicine to resource and land management, land use, environmental conflicts, activism and globalisation. Husky is a founder of Le Nouveau Ministère de l’Agriculture, an art duo who creates provocative artworks about the agricultural sector and agricultural technology. Among other things, she has exhibited at: Bay Area Now 5 at YBCA, San Francisco; De Young Museum, San Francisco; Southern Exposure, San Francisco; the Istanbul Biennial; and The Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, USA.  


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WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION

Suzanne Husky Protect the Sacred, 2019 Wool rug The wool rug Protect the Sacred depicts a conflict over land. It shows activists occupying a piece of land in protest against an environmentally problematic project. They are confronted by police barricades, forestry machinery and even military vehicles. The activists in the bottom half of the rug are literally connected to nature and folkloric figures, matrilineal ancestors with their knowledge of plants, a fertility goddess and mother earth. The police are portrayed as faceless and impersonal, violent figures clearly more intent on protecting financial interests than the common good. Suzanne Husky’s art often comments on the construction of “large, unnecessary infrastructure” such as hydroelectric dams, new railways, airports, shopping centres, motorways and other major projects that exploit nature on the behalf of multinational corporations and agribusiness, to the detriment of local populations and ecosystems. Her focus is most often on the resistance against such operations and policies, as well as on the advocacy for protecting and rebalancing destabilised soils. The design of the rug refers to Afghan war rugs, a tradition rooted in the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979, commonly featuring motifs such as tanks, automatic weapons and violent conflict. Courtesy of Galerie Alain Gutharc.


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Suzanne Husky Faïences ACAB, 2015 2 glazed ceramic vessels Suzanne Husky comments on current events and conflicts with both sociological astuteness and humour. The two ceramic vessels from the series Faïences ACAB are decorated with flowering plants and figures in riot gear, wearing gas masks or visors and carrying batons. As in the rug Protect the Sacred, nature is presented as a battlefield occupied by activists and the forces of law and order; here, we are confronted by the latter in the midst of nature. Perhaps the artist believes we should identify with the activists who are in the process of civil disobedience. ACAB is an acronym for All Cops Are Bastards, a slogan used to criticise police power; in this case, bringing to mind alter-globalist movements denouncing the negative consequences of unregulated capitalism. Suzanne Husky’s Faïences ACAB is inspired by the “faïences révolutionnaires” [revolutionary faïence] produced immediately after the French Revolution, which depicted and commented on actual events such as the fall of the monarchy and clergy. Courtesy of the Collection of Vénissieux, France; Private owner, France.  


MÓNICA DE MIRANDA /

ARTIST’S NOTE

I explore the fractures of tropical nature, rejecting the idea that the landscape shows itself as a text that we can decipher. I aim to reveal the limitations of an understanding of the landscape while at the same time recognizing its constructed nature and fictional condition. The botanic garden, a non-place recreated with artificial borders as a product of pleasure and leisure, is associated with the colonial idea of ‘collecting’ and ‘inventorying’ the globe. Its exuberance and exhaustiveness offered an image of the power of Empires and a ‘controllable chaos’ that opposed the bucolic order of the natural landscape of European agricultural production lands. The indefinable nature of botanic gardens has made them points of cultural exchange and preferred places for the projection of myths, utopias, dystopias, arcades and Eden. The photographs in the exhibition are displayed in fragmented panels that elude any narrative, spatial or temporal orders, revealing a feeling of estrangement. I understand the tropical landscape not as something built, but as something buildable; not as a reflection of determined political imagery, but as a space for action potential, the practice of environmental awareness and emotional geography.


MÓNICA DE MIRANDA /

BIOGRAPHY

Mónica de Miranda (b. 1976, Portugal, resides in Lisbon, Portugal and Luanda, Angola) is a Portuguese artist and researcher of Angolan heritage. Her work often deals with urban archaeology and personal geographies. Working interdisciplinarily with drawings, installations, sound and video, her work combines fiction with documentary. She studied in London, graduating in Visual Arts and Sculpture from Camberwell College of Arts and obtaining her PhD in Artistic Studies from Middlesex University. In 2014, Mónica de Miranda was one of the founders of the Hangar project – an artists’ residency centre in Lisbon. Recent exhibitions include: Arquitectura e Produção, MAAT Lisbon; Panorama, Banco Económico, Luanda; Doublethink: Doublevision, Pera Museum, Istanbul; and Daqui Pra Frente, Caixa Cultural, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília. She has participated in Bienal de Fotografia Vila Franca de Xira, 2017; the Dakar Biennale, 2016; International Biennial of Casablanca, 2016; Addis Foto Fest, 2016; Rencontres Photographiques de Bamako, 2015; MNAC, 2015; 14th Venice Architecture Biennial, 2014; and the São Tomé and Principe Biennial, 2013. In 2019, she was nominated for the New Artists Prize by MAAT in Lisbon and in 2016 for the Novo Banco Photo Prize, when she participated in the finalists exhibition at Museum Coleção Berardo.


MÓNICA DE MIRANDA /

WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION

Mónica de Miranda When Words Escape, Flowers Speak, 2017

Floor 1

Inkjet print in 6 parts Several empires established tropical botanical gardens in their colonies to foster trade of flora in-between their territorial possessions, such as the gardens of Bogor in Indonesia, Pamplemousses in Mauritius, Peradeniya in Sri Lanka and Floresta da Ilha in Luanda, Angola. In the latter Mónica de Miranda photographed these twin sisters hand in hand, fingers entwined. They are dressed in black – the colour of mourning – and have their eyes closed. The nature in which they find themselves, while clearly constructed, is wild and somewhat unkempt. It evokes ideas about the botanical garden as a witness to historical events. Are the sisters listening to the garden’s memories or looking inward? They are standing between two paths. Duality is a frequently recurring motif in Mónica de Miranda’s work. She addresses issues of orientation, between here and there, between now and then, and how people’s identities are affected by a diasporic life.

Mónica de Miranda Botanic Gardens, 2014 Inkjet print in 9 parts Mónica de Miranda’s art is based on exploring various kinds of landscapes, where she finds traces of the past and creates narratives about identity, belonging and the diasporic experience. She often returns to the botanical garden, with its constructed nature and colonial history of collecting and cataloguing,


MÓNICA DE MIRANDA /

presenting it as a stage or set in her photographs. In the work Botanic Gardens, we see a whiteclad woman at a fork in the path through an avenue of palm trees. Reminiscent of a ghostly presence, she interrogates botanical gardens, as remnants of the colonial period, imprinting bodies and territories. What role can they play in a postcolonial era, how they can be appropriated today?

Mónica de Miranda Linetrap, 2014 3 inkjet prints, cotton thread Mónica de Miranda’s photographs in the series Linetrap depict verdant, lush and seemingly natural forests in the jungle of São Tomé; however, the artist’s addition to the photographs in the form of embroidered threads appears to imply something else – that the surroundings are actually a construct. In fact, much of the island’s vegetation is not native, having been introduced as cash crops on the triangular trade route taken by European slave traders between the Americas, West Africa and Europe. The artist describes how she uses the sewn lines to figuratively dissolve the fantasized landscape and how, rather than separating, the threads are intended to mend the tear between coloniser and colonised, between now and then.


GROUND CONTROL /

LARISSA SANSOUR / HEIRLOOM

GROUND CONTROL /

FAITH RINGGOLD /

CREATIVE WORKSHOP

GROUND CONTROL / RECEPTION ENTRANCE

AUDITORIUM LIBRARY CAFÉ / RESTAURANT

ENTRANCE

P

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Ground Control_ENG  

Exhibition leaflet Ground Control, english. Bildmuseet, Umeå universitet,

Ground Control_ENG  

Exhibition leaflet Ground Control, english. Bildmuseet, Umeå universitet,

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