The Museum of Plant Art
In line with scientific, artistic and philosophical non-anthropocentric research, which acknowledges intelligence, interiority, and consciousness in plants, The Museum of Plant Art examines plants' gestures to review aptitudes usually attributed exclusively to humans like talent or artistic intention, as well as traditional categorisations of the arts and art makers in academia and museums.
While we often celebrate human artworks produced in altered states of consciousness, that connect with audiences in manners that go beyond the intellectual or the intelligible, we psychologically resist recognising that same capacity of self-expression in plants. Fear, ego, ignorance, obstination, or maybe a lack of will to review a shared understanding of the arts coined by museums and academia might be behind this rationale, yet our disregard of the non-human poses a main threat to our future.
The Museum of Plant Art reviews common conceptions of the arts while also advancing a non-anthropocentric perspective. Sitting at the opposite end of Western, patriarchal, colonial and extractive capitalism, non-anthropocentric perspectives advocate for a pluriversal collaborative coexistence with other species. In such case, they are considered as cohabitants, and not providers, to be acknowledged and understood within their own rights, inviting reflection on the discourses and practices of differentiation and exclusion of other species, as well as the underlying politics and economies of this exclusion.
Socio-ecological concerns are at the centre of The Museum of Plant Art. Exhibitions and publications from the museum don’t aim to aestheticise nature but to open a political exploration of plants as makers of aesthetic experiences, as artists.
The Museum of Plant Art Inaugural exhibition at Chapelle des cordeliers Toulouse
13 Oct- 26 Nov 2023
The first exhibition of The Museum of Plant Art at Chapelle des Cordeliers focused on the range of intricate visual, auditive and olfactive, experiences wildflowers provide to pollinators. It examined the immersive spaces flowers create and the strategies they put in place for their target audience, pollinators. This immersive experience recreated some of the elements of flower-pollinator interactions, to facilitate discussion amongst exhibition audiences of their/the pollinator experience as an artistic one.
In this iteration, The Museum of Plant Art celebrated the complexity and beauty of plant colouration choices, through a biodegradable installation made of wood and plant-based iridescent cellulose donated by the University of Cambridge. The exhibition also included the use of scents and tailor-made music commissioned for the opening night reflecting on the harmonious vibration flowers and pollinators produce together.
This first exhibition was also be accompanied by a publication by Filigranes Editions and a day conference at the Museum of Contemporary Art Les Abattoirs in Toulouse. Both the publication and the conference aimed to foster debate with a series of contributions from leading philosophers, scientists, journalists, and art academics reflecting on us, our understanding of art and our understanding of earth co-habitants.
The Museum of Plant Art inaugural conference at Les Abattoirs, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain in Toulouse
The first conference of The Museum of Plant Art took place on Saturday 14th of October 2023. Here, I was in conversation with journalist Andreina de Bei deputy editor-in-chief and photo director of Sciences et Avenir magazine and Research Director at the Laboratory of Plants Microbes and Environment Interactions Nicolas Langlade, as well as with Professor of history of contemporary art and photography at the Sorbonne Michel Poivert.
The Museum of Plant Art first publication
The next publication of The Museum of Plant Art will be launched on the 13th of October. A link will be made available here soon to acquire it!
The Museum of Plant Art presented by Michel Poivert. Palais de Tokyo. June 2023
Presentation of The Museum of Plant Art presented by Michel Poivert at Palais de Tokyo, during the 4th Parlament de la Photographie in June
The future of the museum: A museum with a vegetal structure.
The Museum of Plant Art has a vegetal structure. It develops, grows, metamorphoses and decays in a variety of forms adapting to a given context. The Museum of Plant Art future exhibitions and programmes will exist only via collaborative partnerships with host institutions. No physical construction will be required, and no extra consumption of utilities will be involved, making its exhibitions and programmes more sustainable. Sharing existing infrastructure is central to the museum’s ethics as is the sharing of research, resources, practices, knowledge, and experiences.
Being a mutable museum that adapts its programme and projects to a given context also means a greater chance to include and engage with a wider range of local communities. The variable location of The Museum of Plant Art allows it to develop specific outreach initiatives together with its host institutions. This, in turn, facilitates access to the museum’s events and activities and also ensures that the museum’s resource and knowledge production (such as video-recorded conferences, publications, and outputs from participative activities), is reflective of the multiplicity of languages and cultures that should inform its non-anthropocentric agenda.
Social dialogue, exchange, and co-design, actively inform the agenda of the Museum of Plant Art. Interdependencies with host institutions also ensure that the museum’s agenda isn’t marked by a single perspective imposing an understanding. This decolonial strategy allows for a multiplicity of views to significantly intervene in the museum’s production and overall exitance.
Like any plant in its ecosystem, the museum aims to celebrate and expand on existing art communities and programmes. Being part of a network to benefit from and contribute to, where collaboration and interchange are native.
Plants transform and are transformed by their environment. They create and embody the landscape they inhabit forming affective cooperative ecologies with agents in their contexts. This leads plants, pollinators, funguses, and algae to co-evolute together to better support each other’s existence. The Museum of Plant Art aims to honour the natural affective ecologies plants form and metamorphose and transform together with its host institutions.
Photograph of the crystalline cellulose donated by University of Cambridge for The Museum of Plant Art first exhibition.