on how to display botanical reality

Harold Park

Oxalis, living in enclosed environment, a terrarium.
This growing plant is part of an exhibition at the MCA, opening this Friday, In The Balance, a show about art and environment.
You have made a terrarium before, and this latest ones (5 of them) have been constructed by the expert hands of Ian and Matt, two of the gallery assistant, so all credit goes to them, as yours involvement only went as far as collecting the soil from 5 different locations in metropolitan Sydney.

The ‘sample grounds’ have been selected using some basic guidelines, one is that they had to have some sort of ‘wild’ corner, as in an area where the ever-reaching keen gardener did not made sure no other plant but the selected ones would sprout. Another is the aim of representing a variety of micro-climates (seafront, urban park, abandoned areas, never-been-built-areas and sub-urban environmental reality ). And lastly, an attempt at championing different social demographics as well, in terms of users and managers.
As one of the narratives to discover through this ‘botanical-reality-check-boxes’ is the various human-nature relationships, it would be quite difficult to read the individual terrariums without acknowledging the source.
Each terrarium has been planted with dirt from the site alone, and after the initial watering to start-up the germination, nothing else is added, making it a self-contained and self-sufficient unit.

They are all quite different, as expected, some growing more than others (due to the richness of the soil) and each sporting his own set of plants. Some plants are in all of them (like oxalis) while others are a peculiarity of a particular soil sample.

More should be written and analyzed about this terrariums, but in the meantime you busy yourself with the facebook campaign attached to it, and the 5 tours of the locations, see here for details, where you will take people to see where the dirt comes from and what naturally grows out of the area.

Harold Park

About info

Diego Bonetto is a multimedia artist living and practicing in Sydney, Australia, and is a key member of artists' collectives SquatSpace and the BigFAGPress. -The SquatSpace collective has been producing ground-breaking events and projects since 2000. The group has been curated in a number of shows both in Australia and overseas. The current initiatives, the Redfern-Waterloo Tour of beauty (www.squatspace.com/redfern) tackle issues of social representation and the politics of space generated by gentrification. -The BigFagPress (BFP) is a publishing facility housed in Wooloomooloo, Sydney. The BFP is a salvaged 4-tonnes Off-set proof press. The press allows for the creation of countless artworks by keen printmakers and self-started publishers. www.bigfagpress.org Diego has also been working with WeedyConnection, an environmental art campaign. The project involves an online resource (www.weedyconnection.com), short documentary films, cooking shows, blogs, installations, prints, facebook interventions and various site-specific installations in the form of self-guided tours. WeedyConnection tackle the anthropocentric view of what environment should look like. Based on research and data provided by disciplines as far apart as biology, anthropology, paloenthology, social ecology and ethno botany it formulates ethical questions about cultural representation in times of environmental urgency.
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7 Responses to on how to display botanical reality

  1. Valentina says:


    I like a terrarium! I have been working during several years in a botanical garden and we used to make some exhibitions with terrariums, it was really beautiful and joyful.
    Wish you good luck!


  2. info says:

    thanks Valentina!
    As far as the plants living inside the terrariums are probably one of the best way to exhibit flora in a gallery setting.
    Inside the terrarium there is always a very high humidity level, which the plants love, as oppose to the dry air in the gallery due to air conditioning.
    the plants seems very happy, and that makes me happy too

  3. Lucas says:

    the terrariums look really fantastic in the museum. it’s a great adaptation of this project to a gallery context, not always an easy job for a project which is largely dialogical and experiential. nice work boss.

  4. info says:

    indeed Lucas, the Terrariums look fantastic in the gallery space, happily growing in their own micro climate.
    also very nice this one, placed on the northern window, which can be admired from the outside>

    so lucky!
    thanks Lucas

  5. info says:

    oh, for some reason it does not show the image, anyway, you can find it here>

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