Why Look at Plants?

The Botanical Emergence in Contemporary Art


Why Look at Plants? proposes a thought-provoking and fascinating look into the emerging cultural politics of plant-presence in contemporary art. Through the original contributions of artists, scholars, and curators who have creatively engaged with the ultimate otherness of plants in their work, this volume maps and problematizes new intra-active, agential interconnectedness involving human-non-human biosystems central to artistic and philosophical discourses of the Anthropocene.

Plant’s fixity, perceived passivity, and resilient silence have relegated the vegetal world to the cultural background of human civilization. However, the recent emergence of plants in the gallery space constitutes a wake-up-call to reappraise this relationship at a time of deep ecological and ontological crisis. Why Look at Plants? challenges readers’ pre-established notions through a diverse gathering of insights, stories, experiences, perspectives, and arguments encompassing multiple disciplines, media, and methodologies.
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EUR €170.00USD $196.00

Biographical Note

Giovanni Aloi is an art historian in modern and contemporary art specializing in the representation of animals and plants in contemporary art. Aloi currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sotheby’s Institute of Art New York and London, and Tate Galleries. He is the Editor in Chief of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture (www.antennae.org.uk). He is the author of Art & Animals (2011) and Speculative Taxidermy: Natural History, Animal Surfaces, and Art in the Anthropocene (2018). With Caroline Picard, Aloi is the co-editor of the University of Minnesota Press series Art after Nature.


This is a cross-over title that should appeal to many students and scholars who have engaged with animal-studies and posthumanism and who feel that these fields of inquiry require further problematization. The growing readership quickly developing around the Anthropocene might also be intrigued by the proposal of this book. Likewise, readers interested in posthumanism and contemporary art should find this book of interest.