UNUNKRAUT
2017

Mixed media installation (photographic prints on wood board, distillates, media players, mirrored tables, glass bottles, web app)


Ununkraut is an offline/online artwork and cyber-alchemical research project investigating human-plant relations. The work consists of a series of eight photographs in an installation setup accompanied by a mobile app.

The photographs show gatherings of plants in urban contexts and document the individual plants, not as taxonomical representations of a species, but rather as a scene of plant encounters within a specific historical moment. Reading the images requires guiding the eye to discern individual plants in the same way that one does when searching for or gathering wild plants.
The photographs are mounted on sculptural wall objects; shelf-like hyperstructures of varying sizes. Information fragments printed directly onto the wooden shelf elements are partially obscured by stoppered glass vials holding distillations, as well as plant samples and videos of the distillation process.
The plant distillations offer another realm of possible, sensual relating to the plant; visitors are encouraged to unstopper the glass to smell the distillate aroma. The plant odours presented with the photography are in each case a mélange of the plants depicted, furthering the aim of breaking with the form of taxonomical order in favour of a very specific and irreproducible sensual stimulus. The approach via smell or taste is one of heightened emotional impact; smells are known to trigger memories as well as physical reactions of attraction or aversion. Contact with plants via smell or taste is fundamental to human-plant co-evolution and yet it is inherently subjective, emotional, and situative.


The virtual layer of the work - the mobile app ununkraut.net - connects existing websites to the plant photographs and field recordings from each location. In the app, the user is asked to choose an active relation to the plant (“Eat”, “Kill”, “Fear”, or “Follow”) before being conducted to the external sites with corresponding information. The existing sites show fragmented plant knowledge, but also the distribution of plants online, which relates to plant- human world-makings.
Ununkraut is site specific and time specific. The distillates have a limited storage life of only one year, giving each version of the exhibited work an expiry date. Even though the work can be repeated as a methodology, the instability of each version is an important aspect of Ununkraut`s rejection of encyclopedic enclosure.

Ununkraut was produced for the exhibition Networking the Unseen curated by Gretta Louw at Villa Merkel in Esslingen, Germany in 2017/18. In 2019, the web app ununkraut.net was part of the 4th edition of The Wrong Bienale, as part of the un/natural surrogates Pavilion curated by Benjamin Egger. The work was realized with the friendly support of the city of Esslingen and Otto-Eckart-Stiftung.