Garden of Flows
The marvellous Orto Botanico is one of the most important sites of the event. Within the building, Palermo Herbal
, by Malin Franzén, juxtaposes the Sicilian botanist method of nature prints with contemporary scientific visualisation techniques to represent plants that coexist with toxicity. Toyin Ojih Odutola’s collection of drawings, named Scenes of Exchange
, is a series of charcoal and pastel drawings depicting the presence of West Africa within Italy through quotidian episodes.
Inside the majestic garden, Leone Contini has located his piece Foreign Farmers
, an experimental garden where migrating varieties cohabit; the Sicilian cucuzza grows alongside its Bengali, Sri Lankan, Philippine, Turkish, and Chinese counterparts. Michael Wang’s works are embedded in the environment; The Drowned World
is focused on the role of plants in the Anthropocene. It includes a fountain colonized by green-blue living cyanobacteria, a forest composed of plants similar to the existing in the Carboniferous Period, and a gallery of close-up detailed images of coal. Pteridophilia
, by Zheng Bo, is a video piece installed on a flat screen in the middle of the garden that explores the eco-queer potential. In it, seven young men walk into a forest in Taiwan and engage in intimate contact with plants.
At Palazzo Butera, the Los Angeles collective Fallen Fruit has printed dazzling wallpaper patterned with the public fruiting trees of the city. Renato Leotta’s minimalist and one of the most poetic installations of the show, Notte di San Lorenzo
, is a floor made of terracotta tiles with the marks of the falling lemons that cover the entire main room floor of the palazzo. Uriel Orlow’s video installation Wishing Trees
brings together three Sicilian trees that hold memories of significant events and people, connecting human histories and nature. The installation connects the lives of veteran anti-mafia activist Simona Mafai and African migrant cooks in Palermo to the hopes and desires the trees still stand for. Next video installation is Melanie Bonajo’s Night Soil Trilogy
. The artist explores the alienated urbanites who try to reconnect through nature-derived practices and belief systems: ayahuasca trips, sexual therapy, and back-to-the-land food cultures as a form of social healing.
Spread around the city gardens and the open-air Chiesa Santa Maria dello Spasimo, the duo Cooking Sessions built simple structures around different trees to study how to grow plants without water, and what would it mean to water without water.