The Visitors explores alternate means of encounter and exchange between the human and botanical worlds. Rather than simply using plants to do things for us, could we work for them? The exhibition investigates the potential of this ‘Plant agency’ in Katoomba and its surrounds.
Plants mostly seem to recede into the background, the base and stage for the lives of faster moving creatures like us. Yet we depend entirely and absolutely on the lives and labours of the plant world. We are here because they are here.
If we are their guests, we are rather inconsiderate ones. We farm them, we garden them, we prune and transplant them. We harvest them and process them. We eat them and wear them. We use their bodies to house ourselves. Like unwanted visitors we depend much on our hosts to support our endeavours and we take much more than we return.
Inhabiting a single site for a lifetime, plants seem incapable of paying any visits of their own. Perhaps if we expand our timescale beyond a singular plant we can see the way plants move not individually but across generations. Is it through their seeds that plants pay visits? Exploring new terrain and flourishing or perishing according to the conditions in which they germinate; continuing or terminating their journey accordingly.
This project explores the possibility of finding other, less extractive modes to engage with the plant world. Instead of just doing things to plants could we do things for them, or even with them. Could we become agents for plants? Real estate agents? Travel agents? Secret agents?
The exhibition comprises an investigation into the kinds of methods which may be required to make this shift. The work is envisaged as a kind of mobile training camp containing various devices to assist in the practice of ‘plant agency’.
Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline work across architecture, installation, social process and situated public art. Through an interest in modes of mobility, occupation and ownership, their work engages with specific places and asks if the social, political and ecological relationships could be re-framed or re-arranged.
They make objects, shelters, vehicles, tools and devices not as end products in themselves but as ‘props’ to gather together communities of concern and catalyse the formation of new relationships within a particular place or process.
A Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Exposé Program exhibition
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
HEIDI AXELSEN & HUGO MOLINE The Visitors 2017, digital C print, 198cm x130cm. Image courtesy the artists