Aneta Rostkowska will talk about the project Floraphilia: On the Interrelations of the Plant World, Botany and Colonialism dedicated to the political meaning of plants. She will focus on two exhibitions: Floraphilia. Plants as Archives, realized at the Academy of the Arts of the World in Cologne in 2018 and Floraphilia. Revolution of Plants, which opened as part of the Warsaw Biennale in October this year. The first one illuminated the social and political aspects of the history of plants, botany and botanical gardens. Presented artworks referred to plants’ co-option throughout colonial history and history in general, as well as to their economic, feminist and migratory contexts. The second exhibition conceptualized plants as a possible inspiration for political activity – with their resilience, adaptability and communication skills as well as their indifference to state borders. The space of Biennale Warsaw was turned into an anarchist laboratory of the revolution-to-come, which would become possible through interspecies exchange. Both exhibitions encouraged to reject the common conceptualisation of a plant as a mechanistic thing that only reacts to simple stimuli, leading to a vision of significant continuity between humans and plants, which – dynamic, breathing and growing – possess intentionality and even memory. The presentations attempted as well to free the world of plants from the reactionary context of interior design magazines and superficial eco-trends, revealing their emancipatory potential leading to social transformation. An important part of the lecture will be an analysis of the extraordinary design of both exhibitions developed by sculptor, collector and curator Mateusz Okoński.
Aneta Rostkowska is a curator, researcher and writer, and a graduate of the de Appel Curatorial Programme in Amsterdam. She is pursuing experimental curatorial practices in which politically relevant storytelling develops through carefully constructed sensual environments. Rostkowska studied philosophy, economics and art history in Kraków, Poznań, Heidelberg and Frankfurt am Main. From 2016 to 2018 she worked as a curator at the Academy of the Arts of the World in Cologne. Since January 2019 she is a director of Temporary Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Art in Cologne.