Winner of the 2019 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
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.
The Plant Contract argues that visual and performance art can help change our perception of the vegetal world, and can return us to nature and thought. Via an investigation into the wasteland, robotany, feminist plants, and nature rights, this phytology-love story investigates how contemporary art is mediating the effects of plant-blindness, caused by human disassociation from the natural world. It is also a gesture of respect for the genius of vegetal life, where new science proves plants can learn, communicate, remember, make decisions, and associate. Art is a litmus test for how climate change affects human perception. This book responds to that test by expressing plant-philosophy to a wider public, through an interrogation of plant-art.