RUUKKU - Studies in Artistic Research

Working with Vegetal

This, the 16th issue of Ruukku – Studies in Artistic Research, focuses on artists, researchers, scholars, and artistic researchers who are working with the vegetal in various ways. In the call we invited artists and researchers with an experience of working with plants and vegetation in different ways to contribute to this issue with expositions or articles, accounts of work in progress, and artistic experiments.

transplantation: plants, displacement and memory in times of a military conflict Darya Tsymbalyuk
This paper focuses on ways in which human-plant relations are narrated in oral histories of displacement from Donbas, Ukraine. Analysing examples of stories of transplantation, it explores displacement as a transspecies event and calls for a more nuanced understanding of migration and the effects of the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine. The paper is accompanied by a series of drawings.
open exposition
PORK KANA CAR ROT -project and its offshoot: Keyboard for plants (2021) Lauri Linna
In this exposition artist Lauri Linna discusses his PORK KANA CAR ROT project (2016-) and its offshoot the Keyboard for Plants (2019). PORK KANA CAR ROT questions and studies selective breeding which manipulates the reproduction of domesticated plants and animals. In this project the artist's practice is to maintain a carrot population in an allotment garden that is part of his artist’s studio called “The Garden of The Not Simple”. Linna tries to affect as little as possible the reproduction of these carrots in the allotment garden . Documentation of the PORK KANA CAR ROT from 2016 until 2021 is presented. Breeding has been suggested as an art form since the early 20th century. As Linna sees various issues with the methods of breeding, he wants to suggest practice of "non-breeding"; practice of choosing not to manipulate the reproduction of other-than-humans and to re-evaluate our methods. To counter the effects of selective breeding Linna also suggests the practice of "unbreeding" to breed away the domestication of our production species. This practice will become important as we in the future transfer from traditional agriculture where we have individual animals or plants, to in vitro meat and plant tissue produced in labs. This causes the humanity in future to discard the old technology – the cows, the chickens, the carrots...– and cause mass killings or mass abandonment of production species and birth of new feral plants and animals. The Keyboard for plants is an offshoot of POR KANA CAR ROT, that developed from the notion that plants have senses, can remember and change their behavior. The keyboard is a set of sensors that work like a push button that react to movements of the leaves of Mimosa pudica.
open exposition
We Reap What We Sow, embodiment and urban allotment gardening. Part 1: autumn- late winter, October- January. (2021) Polly Hudson
This research investigates the inquiry: how is embodiment illuminated by a relationship with the land, earth, and plants, specifically in the context of an urban allotment gardening practice? It reveals the act of writing from the body, the relationship between a movement practice and gardening, the ancient ritual of growing and nurturing plants, and notions of gardening as a somatic practice. The research project was carried out over the space of a year, from 2019-2020, and in this exposition the activities and interventions that were carried out during part I of the research are revealed. The work shared here is part of an on-going long-term project instigated in 2017 ‘And so we Sow’ which looks at the relationship between dance and gardening.
open exposition
Evolutionary Gardens and Performative Habitats (2021) Egle Oddo
My interest for plant seeds dates back to my early experiments during the '80, when I collected seeds in urban and rural contexts and translocated them in new habitats. Since then my work has taken different directions. At present I create public art works by installing living sculptures which I denominate as evolutionary gardens. The process behind this practice went through a long transformation recently enriched by the contribution of art curators with whom I engage in long term dialogue. This article explores the process of research between 2007-2017, it describes how I become reflective about my viewing and doing, how I progressively opened the work to multiple influences, and how this has generated a better integrative approach leaning towards the complexity of cognitive structures. Finally I asked a set of questions to the curators who worked with me, with the aim to offer the reader a direct view on the diverse approaches intertwined with my practice.
open exposition
Mörk Materia / Dark Matter(s) (2021) TM
The practice-based research carried out throughout several projects and assembled in this exposition is structured around a rhizomatic nexus of still ongoing entries into plant-thinking and co-becoming with plants, partly based on photographic, photosynthetic and biosynthetic processes under the project framework Cogito ergo Pisum, partly based on archival findings, found footage, phenomena and related discourse. "Cogito, ergo sum" is a philosophical statement in Latin by René Descartes, usually translated into English as "I think, therefore I am". The phrase originally appeared in French as je pense, donc je suis in his Discourse on the Method, to reach a wider audience. Connecting and collapsing the notion of thinking with plants – or in this case gray peas of the species Pisum sativum var. arvense, transposed into "Cogito ergo Pisum" – is at the heart of this research. Within the project I am researching, developing and cross-breeding a flora of transdisciplinary experiments, new material studies and processes, that revolve around ways of rethinking, creating for and becoming with other life forms. Photographic, biosynthetic and agricultural methodologies are being used in Cogito ergo Pisum to both analyze and synthesize new ecologies. On the basis of horizontal (gene) transfer, hybridity and hospitality, a number of agents, patients and symbionts have been subject to material-semiotic and transgenic inquiries: Timo the artist and Timo the grey pea — bioart experiments involving horizontal transfer of my DNA to a grey pea cultivar (Pisum sativum var.arvense). Pisum Sativum used by Gregor Mendel in 1856 when unfolding many of the rules of heredity, now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance, constitute a key plant in "Cogito ergo Pisum". Epidermodysplasia verruciformis, also known as Tree Man Syndrome, an extremely rare autosomal recessive genetic hereditary skin disorder, and Foliate heads, also known as Green men, constitute a highly symbolic reading of a hybrid plant-human being. Several works and results of the processes active in Cogito ergo Pisum have been installed in a number of exhibitions, many of which are ongoing or infinite by nature; presented in open archival or horizontal hybrid structures with documents, negative cyanotype photograms, wall drawings and lab notes on paper, mail correspondence, facsimile of illustrated manuscripts, and cultivations of growing grey pea seeds. Some of them, including literature, phenomena, found footage and historical events have later made it into the polyphonic performance reading "Mörk Materia / Dark Matter(s)", which has been adapted and reconfigured to the contexts it has been performed in. Using photographic and moving images, documents, objects, drawings and plant cultivations I am approaching, renegotiating and speculating about our common nature-culture, to both highlight and transform an increasingly dark matter: body, earth, space.
open exposition
Between plant fossils and oral histories: tracing vegetal imaginaries from Donbas, Ukraine (2021) Darya Tsymbalyuk
This exposition brings together multiple contexts, narratives and modes of expression to tell multispecies (hi)stories about and from Donbas region, Ukraine, where a military conflict broke out in 2014. By engaging with fossils, paleobotany and testimonies of internally displaced persons, the exposition explores vegetal imaginaries of the region in a series of drawings and questions stories we tell about Donbas and displacement, and ways in which we tell them.
open exposition