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  • About the project

    Collaboration with Sofie Thorsen.
    Project, book, exhibitions and videofilm. 1998-2003.

    Project about botany in the private sphere and people’s dealing with domestic nature at home. It is based on research we have been doing over a longer period of time at 2 different locations, which we further developed into site-related installations at exhibitions:

    “Window-sill”, Rum46 Århus, DK 1998.
    “Models of Resistance”, Overgaden, Institute of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, DK, 2000
    “EXIT 2001”, Kunstforeningen Gl Strand, Copenhagen. DK, 2001
    “Window-sill”, Book published at Space Poetry, DK, 2001
    “Sous les ponts, le long de la rivière”-Casino Luxembourg, Forum d’art contemporain. 2001
    “Home Sweet Home”, AROS, Århus Art Museum, Århus, 2003

    Windowsill started off with the idea of spreading a lot of pink begonias all over the town of Århus - and to make an exhibition with a collection of people’s potted plants. On our 50 visits we asked people to lend us their window-sill pot plants for an exhibition. For each plant we got we gave a flowering plant as a gift in return. On our visits we spoke with people with the exchange of the plants as the starting point for the conversation. So, gradually, we have collected a number of stories related to the latter. Before returning the plants we photographed them and edited the conversations we had had with their owners on their account. A window sill is both a private and a public space. The small texts tell, each in its own way, about the relation between people and plants. They are personal anecdotes about the relation between pot plants and the private /public sphere, thereby addressing social, aesthetic and gender-specific aspects connected to it. These were presented as a textcollage along with the plants, all installed in the exhibition- space Rum46. At the end of the exhibition each plant was returned to the owner.

    We produced the second version of Window-sill in 2000 for an exhibition in Copenhagen. Again, we exchanged potted plantes with people at their doorsteps, and invited them to participate in building up a collection of plants and stories. In this case we used red geraniums, and focused the project in the neighbourhood Amager in Copenhagen. Amager is a diverse area, it shifts between an urban and a suburban character with single family houses, appartmentblocks and terrace houses. Some of the topics in the conversations were similar to the ones we had in Århus, but in new variations with specific local stories. As in Århus we edited the conversations into a small text for each plant. The collection of plants and texts were presented at the exhibition Models of Resistance. Here the plants filled the window-sills of the exhibition-space and the stories formed a text collage on the wall. We also presented a book with the collection from the first version. And again we photographed each plant for a new book with the collection from Window-sill Amager before they were returned to the owners.

    In 2001 we were invited to do a site-related work for the exhibition “Sous les ponts, le long de la rivière” at Casino Luxembourg, Forum d’art contemporain. 2001. The group exhibition took place in the valleys and in the public parks.

    For this we developed a number of industrial produced signposts as the one you meet in botanical gardens consisting of the images and stories from our collection of photographs and texts. The signposts were placed along an itinerary leading through the valleys of the Pétrusse and the Alzette in Luxembourg. The signposts showed pictures of domestic plants from private homes, presented along with short comments and stories (in English, French and German) of the owners about their plants. The collected research material stem from visits we paid to people in the two Danish cities of Århus (1998) and Copenhagen (2000). Along the itinerary of the Pétrusse and Alzette valleys the signposts were references to the domestication of nature and the private use of it. They flaged the journey like visual and written marks on a walking tour. They appeared as private reference points in the green area of the public park, and involved an immediate recognition in the visitors’ minds of their own private spheres.
    We wished to point out the relationship between the ‘semi nature’ of the public space - the Pétrusse and Alzette valleys and the domestic nature in the private space or people’s homes. Like in a public park, domestic plants only have a recreational and aesthetic function and are not vital. The planning of green areas in urban zones favours the aestheticism of nature - or at least the idea we have of it. The same is true for domestic pot plants on window-sills. This was what the personal stories related to these plants would confirm. Moving our collection of domestic pot plants out of the private homes into the public sphere of the valleys in Luxembourg means establishing a connection between the private ‘botanic’ space and the public green area. The character of the texts and the ‘superdomesticated’ potted plants illustrated the relation between private space and domestic nature. The signposts became small subjective reference points appearing as alien elements in the existing public green area around the city of Luxembourg. Each ‘window-sill’ marked a break in the walking tour through the Pétrusse and Alzette valleys and, by doing so, confered on the project the character of a fragmented narrative.

    To round up our window-sill project we published a book in 2001 at Space Poetry. Here you can read all the plants and stories in one collection. Printed in 4 colour, 191 pages.

    In 2003 we developed a video installation based on the material from Århus and Amager. We were invited to the exhibition “Home sweet Home”, at AROS, Århus Kunstmuseum, The installation consisted of 3 monitors with still image movies (DVD), soft benches and headphones with sound.
    The film consisted of the images and stories from the Århus/Amager collection as a kind of a film version of the project and the book Window-sill. Voice over: Claus Handberg Christensen & Lise Nørgaard.