Neophytes Opens with Exhibit, Tour, Talks at Schäfersee 14 AUG 14H

Installation from Sasha Amaya
U-Bahnhof Franz-Neuman-Platz am Schäfersee
14 August – 30 September 2021 . Opening 14 August 2021

Neophytes, or the Politics of Plants

A project from Sasha Amaya
for Kunst im Untergrund from nGbk
6 Digital Kollagen, Essay, und Pflanzsamen-Pakete

In Neophytes Sasha Amaya turns an eye to observing plant life and understanding the different strategies plants pursue when arriving in a new land. From assimilation to dominance to subversion, Neophytes reflects on the ways that we — as humans and as plants — take up strategies in our homemaking processes. Through collage, writing, and seeding, Neophytes asks questions about the relationship between plants, migration, homemaking, and acceptance.

A neophyte is a plant species which is not considered native to a geographical region, having been introduced after the colonial date of 1492. The word was rarely used until the 19th century, when a passion for categorization and hierarchization subsumed Western Europe. Exploring the strikingly divisive language we still use to think about and frame plant life and migration, the project aims to provoke a conversation about the words and concepts we use to classify each other and the world around us. Through the metaphor of plants, the project invites the public to consider the trajectories of transplantation, change, and accommodation within their own lives and communities, as well as the interwoven, but not straightforward, relationship between human and plant migration, survival, and success.

Exhibited in the Franz-Neumann-Platz subway station, the three large-scale digital-collages build on the juxtaposition of what is considered common and familiar with that which is foreign and strange. Employing popular idioms, as well as images from pop culture and of plantlife, the work plays on cultural references and tensions to unpick what it is we consider to belong to a certain place or to be at home.

The first poster centers the common willow tree. Spread from East Asia along ancient trade routes, it was only in the last several centuries that Western Europeans became acquainted with the now famous Weeping Willow. For hundreds of years it has been used for wood and shelterbelts, as well as, more recently, water purification projects. The central collage features rye, a banner declaring ‘REFUGEES WELCOME’, and several German shepherds. For some time a staple in north-eastern Europe, rye is a crop which can grows throughout much of Europe and Eurasia, and has a long history of sustaining many cultures and many peoples. The third poster focuses on the drought and pollution hardy Turkish Hazel, which is found commonly in Berlin. While Turkey remains the main producer and Germany the main consumer of hazelnut, most of the Turkish Hazel trees of Berlin fill a less agricultural role.

In a set of three further collages distributed as seed packages which unfold into posters, Amaya further explores the history and resonances around some of our most integrated neophytes: corn, tomatoes, and tulips. The public can find the seeds and posters at local venues throughout the city via QR code. As such, seeding, propogation, and care become quesitons and actions for the public at large.

Kunst im Untergrund, nGbk

To find out more about Neophytes, click here.