The Visitors: An Exercise in Plant Agency

Cypress & gum trees, biodegradable plastic, soil, plant seeds, steel, leather, construction scrim, video.
MAMA Albury and Blue Mountains City Art Gallery.

What if we acted altruistically for the benefits of the plant world? What would our world look like? This exhibition explores what can of devices humans would need and how humans may behave differently if they were to become plant agents.

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.

Read review of The Visitors by Running Dog by Carolyn Burns:

“There’s a charming absurdity to many of the individual pieces that make up Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline’s The Visitors, a deceptively simple installation on eco futurist themes. There’s footage of a sapling being carried along a country road in a backpack like an infant in a baby carrier, a porous net veil that enables exhaled carbon dioxide to be shared between one person and a specific plant, and an elaborately engineered copper funnel for collecting urine to water the roots of trees.”

The Visitors: An exercise in Plant Agency ( film still)
The Visitors: An exercise in Plant Agency ( film still) The Visitors: An exercise in Plant Agency ( film still) The Visitors: An exercise in Plant Agency (vest) Biodegrable plastic, soil, seeds. Photo by Silversalt Photography. The Visitors: An exercise in Plant Agency, Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline (installation view)

We must learn not just how to collaborate but how to conspire with plants…we need to tap onto their desire for forms of life that are not for us. We must reconstitute what Anna Tsing (2015) might call a planet fit for “collaborative survival”. If not, their undoing will truly be our undoing.

Natasha Meyers (2017) ‘Photosynthetic Mattering: Rooting into the Planthroposcene‘ in Moving Plants, edited by Line Marie Thorsen, Rønnebæksholm Press: 123-129.


MAPA Art + Architecture
Heidi Axelsen + Hugo Moline.   ︎    ︎   

An art and architecture collaborative working between the social and the spatial.