What Do Landscapes Say?
Planting Structures

installation exploring text/image and culture/nature dichotomies
This work was made as part of a bigger research project called 'What Do Landscapes Say?'

'Planting structures' explores three locations in Karelia: a botanical garden of Petrozavodsk, an open-air museum garden in Kizhi and a Russian dacha garden plot in Vorobyi village. The work focuses on the points where culture and nature collide. It attempts to grasp the subtle oddities of these collisions in an installation where garden signs point to 'nature', that is, apparently, nowhere to be found. Three groups of garden signs recreate the experience of walking through three gardens, so drastically different, but so close in how they illustrate the culture/nature, word/image and private/public dichotomies.

The work was exhibited within two exhibitions in 2020 and were hosted by 'Na Peschanoy' gallery (Moscow) and Het Nieuwe Instituut (Rotterdam).
Exhibition in Moscow

'What Do Landscapes Say?' had an exhibition at 'Na Peschanoy' gallery (Moscow) in October 2020, and the garden sign installation was shown alongside the works of all the research group.

Exhibition participants: Yue Mao, Maria Malkova, Rachel Bacon, Nataly Lakhtina, Vera Mennens, Polina Veidenbakh, Radha Smith, Ksenia Kopalova

Photo: Mitya Lyalin

Exhibition in Rotterdam

Prior to an exhibition in Moscow, 'What Do Landscapes Say?' was shown in Rotterdam at Het Nieuwe Instituut in August 2020.

Exhibition participants: Yue Mao, Maria Malkova, Maria Kremer, Rachel Bacon, Nataly Lakhtina, Vera Mennens, Polina Veidenbakh, Radha Smith, Ksenia Kopalova.

Photo: Jhoeko

This project was made possible by Creative Industries fund NL, with support from Het Nieuwe Instituut, 'Na Peschanoy' Gallery, Mondriaan fonds, CCI Fabrika, Nida Art Colony, Stroom Den Haag, Strelka Mag.

research behind the project
research behind the project
critical reflection in ILLUSTRATion
research behind the project
research behind the project
a garden in Kizhi museum
The project started off from a visit to Kizhi open-air museum, located on an island in lake Onega. The space of the natural reserve turned into a live postcard image was a startling example of a man-made landscape: being a part of a UNESCO heritage, no single patch of ground was left unattended.
What modes of speech do we use to articulate nature?
How do gardens articulate human presence in the environment?
How does an object function within a garden?
disposed machines in the Petrozavodsk botanical garden
With nearly all the wooden architecture brought from neighbouring islands and the museum workers being the only people to inhabit the island, one of the few elements of the landscape that did not feel 'artificial' was a museum garden with typical dacha-like potato and dill patches. But even these were labeled with museum signs indicating that this was not dill, but Anethum graveolens.
Kizhi museum
photo by Nataly Lakhtina
Kizhi museum gardens
The lady who worked in the garden, dressed like a typical dachnik, explained that 'here you can see some of the prominent examples of the vegettion typical for the northern regions of the country'
My exploration of Karelia gardens continued in Petrozavodsk botanical garden, where I paid special attention to the garden signs and the language they use
Petrozavodsk botanical garden
Petrozavodsk botanical garden
I was also looking at the coexistence of objects that are meant for the visitors' gaze and those that are not; the ones that hide the conscious effort and a wide array of instrument used to shape 'nature'.
I was especially interested in the area of the garden that stored disposed agricultural machines: they were organised pretty much like a garden on its own; only this garden was not meant for the viewer.
The third location I picked was a small private garden on another island in lake Onega, in Vorobyi village of just 9 houses.
one of the Vorobyi village houses: note the bars that prevent the house from slanting right
What are the differences in the private and the public garden?
The private garden space was the only one that was not articulated verbally, which made me think about the word/image and culture/nature dichotomies and inspired the project. I used a garden sign without words as a format to articulate/show my questions and observations.
abandoned objects in Vorobyi village
one of the private gardens in Vorobyi village
making photos of a 'Google hole'
photos in Kizhi museum
merging a photo with a drawing
The project started off from an exploration of Google panorama glitches and their possible life within the physical space. I was wondering if there could be a physical 'hole' that connect digital places: what if some of the 'Google glitches' could be found somewhere for real?
How can a physical object be a monument to a digital mistake?
Can an object embody absence?
How can I produce
the insufficiency of knowledge?
Can a pencil drawing represent materiality on par with a physical object?
going back to drawing
creating a glitching panorama shot of a physical 'Google hole'
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