We tend to view plants as objects: in the room there is a table, a chair, and a potted plant; outside there is a building, a bench, and a tree. Even though we know that plants are developing beings, we mostly place them closer to the world of objects than the world of living things – their growth rate is too slow for the human eye to observe, and our contact with them is primarily instrumental. Plants, flowers, and trees make up the backdrop for our lives and serve us as consumer products, primarily as food.
Yet in the reality of climate crisis, the dichotomy between nature and culture no longer suits humanity’s relations with the world. The exhibit “Plan(e)t” offers a fresh view of plants via a series of projects which integrate scientific research with artistic endeavor. The subtitle of the exhibit, “Plants Think, Think Plants,” declares its underlying logic: plants are “thinking” beings, and therefore we must think of them in more complex ways than we have done up to now. “Plan(e)t” has taken upon itself to present an original perspective of the encounter between the animal and plant kingdoms, sharing the same territory: Planet Earth. This view is based on the recognition that sustainable thinking must include a reevaluation of the hierarchy that places plants on a lower rung than living beings, and humans in particular.
The artworks comprising “Plan(e)t” conceive of the plant as a cultural embodiment of the complex relations between power and sustainability. They achieve this by relating both to the local context and a broad historical view. A majority of the works were created specifically for the gallery space, and most of them grow and change during the months of the exhibition. The concepts “sustainability” and “localness” are central to the discussion that the exhibit seeks to foster, based on the innovative cooperation that has been carried out there between artists and researchers. The exhibit strives to confront the viewer with the limitations of awareness that shape our relationship with our environment, its richness and our uses of it, without giving in to the eco-centric position which entirely denies the hierarchy between humans and all other species on the planet.
The question arises: how can one speak of plants without subjugating them to human principles, and at the same time, without making them once again the ultimate “other”? Via the artistic experience, the works before us form the foundation for a new stance – more thoughtful, affirming, and sustainable – towards the world we live in.
Dr. Tamar Mayer, Dr. Sefy Hendler
Chief curators: Dr. Tamar Mayer, Dr. Sefy Hendler
Assistant to the Chief Curator: Yifat Pearl
Participants: David Burns and Austin Young (Fallen Fruit) // Relli de Vries // Stéphane Thidet // Dr. Dafna Langgut // Dr. Yasmine Meroz// Liat Segal // Onya Collective // Noam Rabinovich