How to Be With Plants?

In this brand new podcast, visual artist and master’s student Education in Arts Lobke Meekes and Mexican/Canadian researcher and curator Irene Urrutia will explore our relationship to plants.

How does a plant live and feel? What can we learn from plants? And how can experience, conversations, and art help us explore new ways of understanding and living in connection?

Small collection of touching, surprising, and inspiring plant artworks

In the podcast How to Be With Plants?, we explored different ways of thinking and experiencing our relationship with vegetal life. Following up on our conversation, we compiled a small collection of touching, surprising, and inspiring plant artworks – including the examples that we referred to in the podcast. Shake your roots and branches, and dig in!

Films
• Yaavi (2015) is a documentary film directed by Armando Bautista Guerrero; Dutch/Mixtec filmmaker Itandehui Jansen is director of photography. It was filmed in Oaxaca, Mexico, and features both agave plants and an elderly human couple, Erasmo Bautista and Esperanza García. “When one takes a living being for consumption, one has to ask for permission first. That is the way of the ancestors.” – Imdb. Watch the full film here

• Treeline: The Secret Life of Trees (2019) is a film by Patagonia Films available in full on YouTube. “Follow a group of skiers, snowboarders, scientists, and healers to the birch forests of Japan, the red cedars of British Columbia, and the bristlecones of Nevada, as they explore an ancient story written in rings.” – Patagonia Films. Watch the full film here

Music and audio

• Tree Tree (2020) is a song by Nynke Laverman, from her “slowly growing” album titled Plant.
Watch the music video here (Video by Douwe Dijkstra). We also recommend a podcast by Nynke and Lex Bohlmeijer. Every time she releases a number of her Plant album, the podcast features an interview with someone who inspires her. You can find the episodes in your podcast feed by searching for Nynke Laverman or The Correspondent.

Artworks
• Skotopoiesis (meaning “shaped by darkness”) was a 2015 performance by Špela Petrič. It was an exercise in confronting “vegetal otherness”: the artist stood, immobile, between a source of light and a square of dirt seeded with cress for about 19 hours. Over time, the plants grew shaped by her shadow, while the artists’ body shrunk slightly due to loss of fluids in her intervertebral disks.

Špela Petrič: Skotopoiesis, Photo © Axel Heise, OU\ /ERT : Phytophilie – Chlorophobie – Savoirs Situés, Emmetrop-Transpalette Bourges, 2019. For more information, visit: https://www.spelapetric.org/#/scotopoiesis/

• Inoculate was a 2013 performance by Ana María Gómez López. The artist successfully germinated a small begonia plant within a silicone punctal plug, placed in her tear duct. As Ana María lay still on a makeshift bed and facing a skylight, the moisture from her body enabled the plant to grow.

Begonia seed grown in a silicone plug placed in the artist’s tear duct. Ana María Gómez López, Innoculate, 2013. For more information, see: https://manual.vision/

• Annegret Kellner
In her Herbarium series, Annegret points at a moral issue with a crushed plant. When (exotic) plants are removed from the ground for research and study, it is acceptable to press and squash them. But if you treat your exotic houseplant in the same way, the result is shocking: it almost looks like domestic violence.

The Vigor series has a more ironic slant. “A rustling houseplant probably looks a bit clumsy,” she says, “but as the viewer experiences the fact that vibrations from an exercise bike are endless when no one intervenes, then the martyrdom of the plant comes into the picture.”
The potted plant has no choice over its whereabouts. At the same time, the plant might actually be stimulating it, making juices flow faster, or roots become thicker for support. Is the contrast or conflict between plants and humans lessened?

Photograph from the Herbarium Serie by Annegret Kellner. Read more about the Herbarium Serie here: https://annegretkellner.com/herbarium-euphemismus/diepenheim See Vigor here: https://annegretkellner.com/vigor/vigor-solo

Filmstill: experiment watering houseplants | 2021. Lobke Meekes.

This podcast is part of the LAND project by ArtEZ Studium Generale, about climate breakdown, property, territory, and colonialism and how these things relate to each other. Can we understand how we got into the current precarious situation? What does “ownership” mean for our relationship with each other and the land? And what role does language play as a reflection of our interaction with each other, nature, and the earth?