These two exchange limbs


Margaret Tait, Garden Pieces, 1998. Courtesy of the Margaret Tait estate and LUX.

Event Details

Thursday 9 May 2019


Situated in the context of the Victorian house and gardens of the South London Botanical Institute, this event will vocalise alternative biosocial plant histories and put forward ways of communing with vegetal life. Through these artistic testimonies, which divert from the codified language and values of traditional botanical science, These two exchange limbs listens for fugitive plant biographies.

With contributions from artists Lorena Ancona, Inês Neto dos Santos, Gabriella Hirst, Ingela Ihrman and Mónica Rivas Velasquez and a screening of the late Orcadian filmmaker Margaret Tait’s short film Garden Pieces (1998).

The event will frame botany through emotional encounter and recollection; drawing on the personal, the spiritual and the micro-political. Invoking the affective register, we propose a reading of the wider issues at stake in considering our plant-human relations. Whilst recovering other forms of plant knowledge which have been erased through the regime of Western science, we will speculate on emergent theories of plant intelligence, such as ‘the sensitive plant’ Mimosa Pudica’s ability to retain memory. The kinship with the vegetal world offered by these artists, points to a complexity of plant life beyond extractive resource or use-based value; rethinking, for example, the demonisation of the ‘Invasive species’ or weed.

Alongside performance and reading, the evening will include a ceremonial handover of the ‘Atom Bomb Rose’ – a species Gabriella Hirst has spent a number of years researching and cultivating – to the SLBI garden. Sculptures by Lorena Ancona will be installed in the conservatory and Inês Neto Dos Santos will provide a fermented botanical drink, made using an unwanted weed that grows in the garden. ‘Garden Pieces’, the last film Tait made before her death will close the event, drawing on the filmmakers’ poetic relation with plant life, in particular Primula Scotia, an elusive wild flower native to her Orkney homeland which was an important figure in Tait’s thinking.

Performances will start at 7pm. Ticket price includes a drink. We have a few free tickets reserved for those for whom this cost is prohibitive, so please get in touch if this is the case. Venue is partially accessible, please get in touch for further details.

Part of an ongoing curatorial research project Tending the shy weed.

Curated by Laura Plant.