A Place of Fantastic Flora (habitat study)

at Kunstmuseum Stuttgart 2020-2021
group exhibition Beyond Walls, Über Grenzen hinhaus

A Place of Fantastic Flora (habitat study) 
Unglazed clay vessels, ventilation pipes, industrial absorbent foam, farming salt lick, Black Forest mineral water. 2020.

︎ The Sensory Living: A Substance of the World
Excerpt from publication by Sarie Nijboer.
Beyond Walls, Über Grenzen hinhaus. 2021.

︎ video documentation

A Place of Fantastic Flora (habitat study) is a device for climate control that works by dispersing humidity in the space. This technique echoes an ancient Roman practice in which pieces of wet earthenware and textiles were positioned by a window to refresh and purify the air inside a building. The presence of these objects in the space have a subtle effect on the composition of the air, highlighting the absurdity of climate control as an attempt to erase discomfort for some, while producing damaging responses.

The vessels hold mineral water from the Swabian Black Forest; they are made of unglazed clay, a material that fails to actually contain liquids. Cylindrical fans from a ceiling ventilation system produce a light breeze towards the vessels; the water gradually “exits” their porous surface, it gets absorbed by industrial foams and salt blocks for intensive farming, and eventually evaporates into the air.

The reference to the Black Forest alludes to a romanticised untouched landscape, exploited throughout history for mining, forestry and tourism. In fact, the Black Forest was almost completely deforested in the middle of the 19th century and spruce monocultures were planted there instead. A stack of Black Forest water bottles is arranged in the exhibition space, forming a semitransparent cubical shape. The vessels need to be refilled regularly which cause this shape to gradually decrease in size and eventually disappear.