As part of my ongoing experiments in cultivating person-plant empathy, this project involves direct, personal encounters with nature.
Within the carefully tended landscape of Seleger Moor, I engage in a collaborative partnership with the moor itself, creating a unique space akin to a 'living room.' Together with the surrounding plants and trees, I have introduced two chairs and a hand-woven carpet into this environment. One chair is occupied by the dynamic presence of soil and plants, which continuously grow and establish their presence within this carefully curated space. The second chair serves as an invitation to visitors, encouraging them to immerse themselves in a direct encounter with the plants. It calls them to sit, take the time, and sensitize their senses to the surroundings: observing the interplay of light filtering through branches and leaves, appreciating the diverse shapes and colors; attuning themselves to the subtle effects of temperature on their skin and the ambient sounds; and above all, inhaling deeply the rich scents emanating from the dark moor-earth.
This installation is referred to as a laboratory for developing person-plant empathy through experiments entailing direct encounters with plants, focussing on a process of awareness, observation and experimentation with plants as collaborators. With the goal of discovering and developing new ways of perceiving and of understanding the dignity of plants, the site specific installation at Nova Brunnen offered several different opportunities to experience plants in a slightly different way and the opportunity for subsequent person-person exchanges to share the experience. Participants were invited to observe the immediate environment through the plants’ point of view: through fragrance, altered physical perspectives in relation to plants (sitting, standing, lying) and immersion into a natural plant habitat. The experiments were intended as a means of developing one’s empathy with plants and one’s sense of “botanical belonging”.
At core is my interest in caring for the environment, especially by becoming more aware of the role plants play in the balance of our ecosystem and the planet’s wellbeing. If one is able to perceive and consider plant life in new ways, then perhaps this will cause a shift in the way one experiences, cares for, and responds to the world.
In response to the Covid epidemic, with all the uncertainty, lockdowns and masks, I began drawing faces of people I saw in the news. While newspapers were filled with articles about corona, they also maintained a steady murmur of “other concerns” which served to contrast with or sometimes support the anxiety and later the boredom seen in most of the faces.
A project which invited the participation of the local community, done in collaboration with the photographer, Susanne Scherer. Through advertising and by word of mouth, and open to the entire community, people were invited to contribute an article of clothing and write a short text about why they were giving it up. Their contributions were hung together on a clothesline installed at the center of a formal garden, documenting the participation of 119 community members, aged 5–86: artists and other-than-artists hung together, side by side.
The figures here are anonymous, repetitive, restless groups cut out from various maps of the world. Under this clear dome, in this garden-like place, they are safe and protected - but also trapped.
Refugees (black and white) and imported fruits (in full, sensual color).
Up close but unnamed, these selfie-portraits of trees are presented as valuable objects (photographs) and displayed with precise information regarding the exact time and location of the photograph but without information regarding the tree itself.
A play on the word, seaworthy, these wooden frames installed along Zürichsee make space for nature to portray herself in combination with imaginary painted land/seascapes (culture). The viewer is able to adjust their view in order to see what they want to see in these framed “artworks”.
In collaboration with the architectural elements of this 13th century building -the low vaulted ceilings ending in thick columns and southfacing wall openings which allowed in sound and light, I was able to re-animate the space of the “cellarium” with the addition of filtered blue light and lengths (10 meters) of cloth, thin as spiderweb. The movement of the cloth and light created an ephemeral performance for visitors quietly walking through. The room was awakened for two days and then returned to its centuries-long stillness.
The famous painting "Gotthard Post" was projected, traced and cut into 28 fragments which were distributed across Switzerland and abroad. Each of these postcard size pieces was then returned, via the post, to 8800 Thalwil. Elements such as time and chance became important aspects of the project. Each card was modified by the necessary processing "marks" of the postal system by anonymous postal workers who contributed to the creation of the project. Surprisingly, no cards were lost and all individual parts were returned to recreate a 2011 version of the Gotthard Post.
Stay, remain, rest, linger, stop, stay, be patient, rest. We all do it. We did it in 2006 and we’re doing it now. What are you waiting for?
© Shaun Dziedzic 2023