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Mauvaises Herbes “New Philadelphia & Little Manchester”

with Anne-Laure Franchette01/03/18, 01/03/2018 Actions

My starting point for this research has been the term “mauvaise herbe” (bad seed/weed in French). I wondered what it really meant. Are plants “bad” when they are not “useful” and can not be controlled? In a sense, categorising “bad“ plants is an illustration of our tendency to perceive and treat nature as a commodity to control. The semantics used to describe these “undesirable” botanical species and the action to be taken against them can also borrow strongly from military vocabulary, emphasising competition, risks associated with invasion and thus fear of destruction.

The aim of this research project is to create relations through the installations and objects produced. I would like to create links between different sort of audiences, from cultural spaces to scientific laboratories or from schools to craft markets. In this sense, the project tries to act as a sort of poetical activism. Attempting to create a variety of accessible and inclusive social spaces, it will try to stimulate ecological awareness and discussions as to the “nature” of our social processes. To do this, handmade utility objects will be created to act as mediators. The intended value of these objects would be both real and metaphorical.

In April 2017, I completed an artist residency in Athens (Y Residency). I researched and experimented with the local “mauvaise herbe” and the local history, focusing on the nearby park. At the end of this residency, an exhibition presented the first stages of my research and relation with the history of the local urban space . In May 2017 I took part in the Athens Platforms Project (an art fair for independent artist run spaces) with an interactive nettle installation then conducted a workshop about plant’s nomanclature at the Victoria Square Project (a community space created by the american artist Rick Lowe during Documenta 14). Since then I have been developing further ideas connected to botanical categories, urbanisation and hierachies of labor into a sculptural body of work which was exhibited in Zürich in December 2017 and January 2018 (Visarte and Reta 003). In March 2018, I started the second phase of this research, thanks to the support of the French Institute, the Athens project space Yellow Brick and the Zürich contemporary exhibition space Tart. I started by investigating the plants and layout of local park (New Philadelphia) as well as the local history of Nea Ionia, known as “little Manchester” because of its textile industries.


In collaboration with the Institut Français de Grèce

Supported by:

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is a French artist and curator with a background in Fine Arts, Art History and Anthropology. She is based in Zurich, Switzerland. Her present research is concerned with the systems of meanings that have been applied to nature, flora and seeds through centuries of imperialism, colonialism and globalization. She is particularly interested in the perceptions and representations of nature as "neutral", "passive" and "decorative". Strongly informed by underground artistic networks and the micro economy of art, Franchette also independently organise exhibitions and platform projects such as the Zurich Art Space Guide, Volumes Zurich or the 24 Hours Project.