Strange Vegetation

For Strange Vegetation, I worked with Yevgeniya Kaganovich to bring her longstanding art with latex into the realm of the kinetic. It is an interconnected and synthetic organism of over a dozen breathing, latex sculptures, in the shape of improbably large onion stalks. Strange Vegetation grows an ecological system out of the unique decor at Milwaukee’s Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. It is a site-conditioned installation incorporated with the repeated pattern of exotic greenery and floral iron work on the walls around it. Here, a network of physically intertwined and identical plant-like forms project, as bulbous roots, from the floor. Their stalks reach from below painted skirting to the wallpaper above. We as viewers walk between thirteen human-sized, rubbery volumes that slowly inhale and exhale in an inflation and deflation cycle that gradually distorts each form over the course of the exhibition.

Strange Vegetation germinates and mutates the wallpaper’s images into living and breathing things; where paint and wallpaper meet becomes the ground from which foliage sprouts; and these inflated volumes interweave with one another and the implied life of the cultural institution. The Villa Terrace is intended to accumulate and preserve the products of human time. Strange Vegetation, then, thinks beyond this lifecycle – in Earth time. It transforms the site from museal space to biological habitat, producing a fantastical organism of an imagined future. Strange Vegetation suggests that all built environments are (a) vibrant matter with the capacity for their own movement, change, and agency over time.