ABOUT / CONTACT
Text for the exhibition Markkontroll [Ground Control] Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden
"I was offered 3 important things when I was young, outdoor time, a pruner and Les Jardins of Michel Baridon, history of gardens through literature. Ever since I always have a pruner in my bag for plants and safety and have kept learning about agriculture systems.
At some point in my 20ies, I realized I did not know the names of the plants. After a year in China(2002-2003) where the air was unbreathable, bok choy was grown on the smallest patches of land and amended with poo, waters were spoiled, and forests were being torn out to be planted in cities for “green city” competitions; I went back to school for four years of landscape horticulture studies in Oakland California. I became a gardener and plant consultant for a landscape designer. As a gardener I worked for wealthy folks and my co-workers were Mexicans, we were cheap labor - that is the first politic of plants point I encountered; the social status of the gardener; 1 - the gardeners, primary caregivers of earth is a non valued worker, 2 - nongardeners do not know how to interact with their gardens, gardens are sets for hosting, real estate value, social status, “nature” etc
The landscape world holds the complexity of the situation we are in, the spectrum of practices is vast. I worked with indigenous plants from native nurseries with permaculture techniques to planting tropical landscapes in our drought California landscapes. As a plant consultant, I was petrified with anxiety all the time; will the plants handle this soil, the weather, the pollution, the sun exposure, will the future caretakers understand the plants and let them become what they have to become etc etc. There are a lot of things to weigh in and mostly we had to work fast and make spectacular gardens (a little like in the art world !). No slow soil building, no patience for the delicate more discreet plants, no rain catchments etc. I was quickly disillusioned by the landscaping world where the plants are all patterned and mass-produced. But I never left that world, i just stepped into a place where my relation to earth was healthier. Now I built soils, it’s my passion. I used my art to research the history of landscape, ethnobotany, politics of weeds, ag.tech etc. (I also taught Landscape in the art school of Orleans and "Plant matters" at the San Francisco Art Institute)
Other books that changed my life (there are many, we’ve had a book group on those topics for years and have grown together) Forest, the shadow of civilisation of Robert Pogue Harrison and Tending the Wild, Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources by Kat Anderson. Anderson’s book is a history of the California landscape and how food abundance had been created over a period of 12 000 years, which taught me to work with what is there as opposed to against it. Of course, she deconstructs John Muir philosophy of “virgin landscapes” that have just set a stage for contemporary fire issues and so much more. Starhawk is also core as she unpacks how the domination of woman and nature are the same thing, but also teaches land regeneration and permaculture and eco-spirituality!"