To receive the Luxiders Newsletter, sign up here.
Through innovative takes on photography, the multifaceted exhibition “Greenery: Plants in contemporary photography" invites the visitors to respond to their own emotions, to sharpen their environmental awareness and to perceive the harmony between nature and culture. Through the perspective of six artists, the display examines the often-ambivalent relationship between humans and plants through the eye of the camera. Beautifully curated with present-day works, mostly from the museum’s Photography Collection, the journey takes us through the prodigious shapes of the plant world. From lofty first to dense mangroves and bizarre pistils, the artist's guide us through an experience that can soothe the nerves, offer food for thought or trigger powerful emotions.
Falk Haberkorn plays with the contradictions between a romantic reverence for forests and the environmental impacts and commercial interests that threaten them. The artist describes his technique as a “visual interrogation” of things purportedly "plain to see”. His enigmatic work “Clearing” triggers emotions and arouses memories of fairy tales and legend in Western cultures.
Mimi Cherono Ng’ok imbues her images of plants, printed like clippings on rice paper, with personal emotions. With her strong awareness of the mutability of our surroundings she also travels to tropical climate zones. She takes photographs in the Dominican Republic, on the margins of urban settlements and in the gardens and parks of São Paolo and Nairobi.
Susanne Kriemann has a keen sense of life’s fragility on our globalised planet. For her series “Mngrv polymersday” (2020) she took photographs among the Indonesian mangroves on Pulau Bintan, where ocean pollution has led to waste from human civilisation becoming entangled with the fragile ecosystem. The involuntary amalgamation of flora and synthetic junk such as fishing nets and plastic bags is depicted by this artist as a unity.
Andrzej Steinbach created his twenty-part series “Ashtray and Yoga Mat” (2023) at the invitation of the Berlinische Galerie. The artist consulted 132 historical photographs of plants, fungi, and minerals in the Folkwang-Auriga Archive (1928–1932), choosing those that he found most interesting as pictures. He then matched his selection to photographs of consumer goods and everyday objects. He invites the viewer to consider the interplay between things made by human hand and things that grow naturally.
“Sculpture, object or living plant?” asks Stefanie Seufert, whittling the evergreen tree down to pure form with her photography. The conifer, captured in front gardens and parks, is the motif for her series “01-1 – 1-10” (2006–10), which pursues ambivalence and comparison. Can her series be read as reflecting documentary typologies and does a single image signify anything more than itself? Stefanie Seufert explores the properties of photography, beginning where pictures defy genre classification.
Ingar Krauss takes his photographs in the Black Forest, in Brandenburg and in Norway. In his seemingly harmonious compositions, he tracks down tensions between human interventions in the forest and indomitable nature. Stacked logs, branches propped against trees, scattered deadwood and heaps of twigs are the result of both profit-oriented and sustainable forestry management. These multiple human orderings characterise the woodlands of Europe.
Through an assortment of contemporary works, “Greenery: Plants in Contemporary Photography” is a thought-provoking exploration of the natural world. Additionally, the showcase serves as an inspiration to seek out other exhibitions dedicated to promoting environmental awareness and sustainability.
Tickets to the museum and more information can be on the Berlinische Galerie website.
© Falk Haberkorn, Schonung #2, 2003/2004 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023