Biennale 14 maja_mm0761

Monika Bakke. Plant-Body Art: Why Plants don’t need to be Misunderstood


In the last two decades plant bodies have been both subjects of significant discoveries and of heavy technological intervention. While plant biology is making claims about plants’ sophisticated behaviors, biotechnologies aim for reprograming plants for our own use. Artists also contribute to rediscovering plants often locating them in the technoscientific contexts but at the same time they are looking into the cultural history of plants as well as into their natureculture futures. Art practices involving real plants, both on a material and on a discursive level, open up a territory where the complexity of plant life can be put forward and plants’ ability to respond can be emphasized.

In my talk, I am going to investigate specificity of plants’ embodied lives beyond the animal model and their presence in the contemporary art practices. I will focus on that how specific scientific discoveries of plant biologists and biotechnological tools resonate in both the contemporary art practices involving plants and in the philosophical inquiries into plant lives. Finally, my last goal is to indicate what kind of plant body emerges from these contemporary art practices.

Monika Bakke (PL) is associate professor of philosophy at the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland. She writes on contemporary art and aesthetics, with a particular focus on posthumanist, gender and cross-cultural perspectives. The author of two books: Bio-transfigurations: Art and Aesthetics of Posthumanism (2010, in Polish) and Open Body (2000, in Polish), co-author of Pleroma: Art in Search of Fullness (1998), and editor of Australian Aboriginal Aesthetics (2004, in Polish), Going Aerial: Air, Art, Architecture (2006) and The Life od Air: Dwelling, Communicating, Manipulating (2011). Since 2001 she has been an editor of the Polish cultural journal Czas Kultury (Time of Culture).