My Body is a Plant explores the world of medicinal plants, delving into traditional healing practices in Europe. The research originated during documenta fifteen, where I participated in the collective
Jimmie Durham and A Stick in the Forest By the Side of the Road.
My Body is a Plant aims to create awareness about the interdependence and correspondence of humans with the vegetable world by establishing a dialogue between art, phytotherapy, ethnobotany, ecofeminist theories, with a particular focus on Italy. To develop the research I am collaborating with the Italian herbalist Karin Mecozzi.
Mecozzi's phytotherapy approach revolves around viewing plants and humans as tripartite organisms, drawing parallels between their organs and functional systems.
In human anatomy, the head, bone structure, and nervous system correspond to the mineral element, mirroring the plant's mineral component found in its roots.
The abdomen, responsible for substance intake, elimination, and the organs of reproduction, aligns with the plant's flowers, fruits, and seeds – organs contributing to the plant's individualization and nourishment. The stem and leaves of a plant, serving as organs of assimilation, are analogous to the human rhythmic system, encompassing processes such as breathing and blood circulation.
The project develops by exploring and translating into sculpture the interactions between the human and plant bodies during the healing process.
Roots my nervous system
My Body is a Plant - roots my nervous system | Porcelain | 66 x 54 x 46 cm | 2022 |Jimmie Durham & A Stick in the Forest by the Side of the Road | KazimKuba | documenta fifteen | with works of Bev Koski, Elisa Strinna, Hamza Badran, Iain Chambers, Joen Vedel, Jone Kvie, Maria Thereza Alves, and Wilma Lukatsch | photo Nick Ash | private collection |
My Body is a Plant - roots my nervous system is the first of a series of works centered on medicinal plants. Roots my nervous system explores the properties of specific medicinal plants aimed at alleviating pathologies associated with the isolation imposed by COVID-19, studying Valeriana Officinalis.
Valeriana Officinalis holds a significant place in traditional medicine and magical culture, renowned for its efficacy in treating sleep disorders, as well as more generalized anxiety and depression disorders. This is achieved through its interaction with the neurotransmitter GABA, which plays a pivotal role in stress regulation.
Crafted from porcelain and painted with the majolica technique, the sculpture weaves the plant's roots into a symbiotic relationship with a section of our peripheral nervous system. This fusion creates a hybrid body, symbolizing interactions and correspondences between two distinct organisms.
My Body is a Plant - Bewitching Practices is a collaborative essay written with the Ph.D. researcher in feminist practices at Berkley, Nicole Trigg. The text begins with testimonials from women accused of witchcraft in the late 16th century in Italy, addressing models of femininity deemed disruptive to the patriarchal order. It then delves into the alliance between the feminine and the plant world, as manifested in traditional healing practices. It continues on examining how this ancient knowledge can be applied today to cure pathologies associated with isolation produced by extreme conditions, such as those experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The publication is also part of the book Jimmie Durham & A Stick in the Forest by the Side of the Road, published by Walther König, design by Karoline Świeżyński.
The Garden of Banes
My Body is a Plant - The Garden of Banes | Porcelain | Henbane | 16 x 43 x 43 cm | Belladonna | 37 x 25 x 16 cm | 2023 | STAFFAGE | exhibition curated by Joao Vasco Paiva | gallery LEHMANN+SILVA | exhibition photos by Filipe Braga |
“Testing the myth through the prism of the modern condition and the other way around, Strinna proposes alternative ways to consider sexuality, as well as the nervous and respiratory systems, their organs, and their functions. The body, no longer a miserable mechanistic ensemble, becomes a cosmic threshold to communicate with and toward other species, crossing and experimenting with symbiotic relations, and vegetating in unexplored physical and psychic states.” Sonia D’Alto
The Garden of Banes explores phytotherapeutic practices and the historical persecution of women for witchcraft in Europe. The project delves into the compositions of mind-altering ointments listed in witch trial records.
The Plants in witch-ointments have historically been associated with connecting individuals to the unknown, serving as gateways to the magical and sacred. Despite their poisonous nature, they were also commonly used as remedies for various pathologies.
Drawing from ethnobotanical literature, phytotherapy, and contemporary scientific research, the project aims to create an environmental installation—a symbolic garden exploring historically significant Magic Plants from pre-modern Europe.
The Greek term pharmakon highlights the dual nature of drugs, meaning both poison and remedy, emphasizing the ambivalent nature of care practices. The research seeks to understand the role these plants can still play today in developing care practices where poison and remedy are not seen as antagonistic but as dialectical components integral to the same healing process.
My Body is a Plant - The Garden of Banes | Cement and Iron | 95 x 55 x 20 cm | Parco Carta | Soveria Mannelli | Italy |
The Garden of Banes exists also as a site-specific environmental installation. The project has been realized for ParcoCarta, a contemporary Art Park based in Soveria Mannelli, Calabria (IT)
The installation is constituted by two sculptures in concrete surrounded by a selection of plants that have historical relation to the persecution of women in Europe during the Inquisition, by being mentioned in witch trial records, or by being associated with witchcraft from the local community of Soveria Mannelli.
The sculptures represent components of the peripheral nervous system, symbolizing the pathways through which the active principle of the plants interact with different human organs in the healing process.
The plants selected include Papaver somniferum, Hyoscyamus niger, Datura stramonium, Atropa belladonna, Laburnum alpinum, Ruta graveolens, and Helleborus Bocconei.