Marie Roux with an invitation to Karolína Mikesková
ON AND ON THE YELLOW KNITBONE SHORE
17/07/21 - 14/08/21
"This can last a long time, until one erradicates directions. There is no more good sense, they are either special or forbidden, so I went round ...I went round...”
From The Giratory Sense by Raymond Devos
Last year we unearthed Comfrey from the marshes and replanted it in a garden that we had access to and also in the front garden of where I live. It was nice to think that this is how one can make a garden, taking a plant from a place where it grows wild and bring it tosomewhere close where hopefully it might find it favourable to grow there too. Gardeners give each other plants and seeds all the time. Bees and birds transport seeds around too. It goes round.
Also having Comfrey nearby meant if it was needed to help heal sore bodies it could be done. It also became quite addictive to bring flowers and seeds home like experiences and things that had potential. And I photographed it because I like to photograph plants...
A friend at that time observed a family in her local park picking Mugwort and then we found out that we could eat the leaves. This went on and on...
And once in France whilst on a familiar road I noticed for the first time a roundabout that was left wild, unlike the others. It had weeds growing high and wild and when you drove round it you could hear all the wildlife buzzing. I asked if people knew why it didn't have a fountain with palm trees, a sign saying “Welcome”, fake beehives or an imposing monumental cast iron bright red sweet. All things that adorn other roundabouts on this road. People said this roundabout sat at the border of two communes so there was a dispute about who had to pay for it's maintenance, or something like that. An ongoing dispute. Roundabouts are something quite present now in France, they cost tens of thousands to create and they are there to make the living outside of cities more accessible for people.This is what I was told. It was a thing of the Giscard era.
When the show at Project 78 came to fruition, Karolína and I discussed how we could make things that relate to Comfrey, weeds in general, native plants and how they grow around us and how we can give them a new meaning.
Karolína went on to make things and I photographed plants in different contexts where I could find them. I found myself back in France where I kept trying to convince my dad that this roundabout was something quite special each time we went round it. I went by foot to the roundabout with the idea to photograph the ecosystem there and how nature had taken it back, after all this road is built on a swamp so in my mind everything there will one day return back to how it was, water. All the roundabout will be under water. I found a sign next to an existing one with a picture of white Comfrey, the Symphytum officinale or again knitbone, the text explains how because the plant grows there that the area is protected and one cannot build anything on top and not even pick the plant itself. It is special there and overlooked here. It was a nice small discovery. It is a myth here but not there. Can it work the other way round? It is funny to think that we apply our system to plants. In making work we tried to observe how things work.
So no monumental public art display will be laid down on the roundabout. I like to think it will stop anything being imposed there.
This activated a lot of thoughts in no particular order, we looked with care at a plant that is common somewhere and it made me aware that it was protected somewhere else, and on and on.
Roundabouts were originally free spaces for public gathering, for people to gather and discuss.