The Intelligence of Plants

16.10.2021 — 30.01.2022

Opening: Friday, September, 15, 2021, 7 pm

With Berlinde De Bruyckere, Thomas Feuerstein, Marshmallow Laser Feast, Abel Rodríguez, Diana Scherer, Nicola Toffolini and with exhibits from Forschungszentrum Jülich (Institut for Pflant Science), Pflanzensoziologisches Institut (Austria)

Curator: Franziska Nori

With the exhibition The Intelligence of Plants, the Frankfurter Kunstverein wants to once again contribute to the debate about the Anthropocene: what new understanding of plant life have we humans gained, and what conclusions can we draw from this knowledge.

Plants have lived on our planet long before humans and have developed methods to successfully sustain themselves over millions of years and despite the five past incidents of species extinction.

In recent decades, a growing number of scientific researchers have gained new insights into the way plants communicate with each other and across species: they share their habitat with other organisms in a symbiotic and collaborative way. They do not exist as individuals, but live in communities that depend on each other. They live both in water and on land and were the first living creatures to make the planet habitable. Knowing that they are physiologically different from us, as they have no central nervous system, no brain and no form of spoken language, we are increasingly recognising their immensely complex way of life.

With their novel observations and findings, the various scientific researchers provide a basis for philosophical and social considerations that put our historical form of life and economy up for discussion.

With the planned exhibition, we would like to present individual artists who, together with literary figures, demonstrate these new voices of a changed sensibility towards fellow plant life. These attitudes are representative of a new awareness that all life is interconnected. The exhibition does not claim to represent the completeness of this cultural phenomenon, but it does want to be part of a movement that pleads for a new form of human self-understanding in dealing with the world.

We want to juxtapose a form of visualisation of knowledge and thought that transcends disciplines without hierarchy. Scientific exhibits will be juxtaposed with contemporary works of art, documentary films with poems and other literary forms, all of which, from the perspective of their discipline and knowledge, participate in the transformation and turn from one understanding of humanity to the next.

The understanding of nature needs new thoughts, new dimensions and new cooperation. The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive supporting programme in which the actors from the different fields will present their approach: Artist talks, guided tours with scientists and panel discussions.