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Evening primrose

 

2 plots, 80 x 250 cm, 50 x 250 cm, 2020

The starting point for the research is a photo of a green area on the roadside in Brandenburg. In addition to the sown grass, you can see different wild plants. However, a significant part of this "free" inconspicuous green is not of native origin and would only grow in America without human intervention. The ruderal vegetation proves to be an archive of memories, a silent witness of globalisation with their different layers of discovery, development, conquest, exploitation, uprooting, sorting out since the 16th century. In the work, the ways of spread of a particular plant are to be brought together on one level at different times.

 

The evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) in the meadow strip serves as an example. For the Algonkin Indians was it a medicinal and vegetable plant. It came to Europe early. In its home, today's Virginia, different interests were pursued at the beginning of the 17th century. There were plant and animal hunters in search of exotic objects for the European nobility. At the same time, settlers came to Virginia for cultivating tobacco - initially with indentured servants, soon with slaves from the transatlantic triangular trade. The evening primrose may also have happened to be delivered to Europe in a tobacco shipment - this is usually assumed. It is known that it was first listed in Europe in the Paris Botanical Garden in 1622. Already at the end of the century it was found in many farm gardens - above all the roots were cooked and eaten like salsify. Only a short time later the plant was soon described as a weed that spreads further and further east, especially along the railway lines. It came back to America as a "German rampion", but also there it lost it's status as a vegetable plant. As everywhere, it continues to spread in America without human interest and particularly populates areas that are left unused by humans.