Constance Osuchowski and Tia Bennett, 2019
A herbarium is an annotated collection of dried plants
Our Herbarium takes the shape of a suspended figure, exploring the complex relationships women have with their bodies. Inspired by women in art, science and traditional medicine who have had a strong connection with flora —and considering the way in which plants are collected, preserved and classified— we confront how women try to define themselves by a similar kind of strict taxonomy, specifically exploring the concept of the woman as ‘nurturer’.
As you walk around the sculpture, the figure of a woman comes in and out of view. Her panels, made of acrylic, cyanotyped glass, and dried flowers are reminiscent of an exploded greenhouse, a structure that creates a hospitable environment where plants can grow, however it is imperfect. While the plants the figure shelters thrive, she herself is composed of shards of glass and plants that are dead and preserved. She can’t find a balance between nurturing herself and what is around her. The flowers in resin suggest that preserving oneself for viewing, like pressing a fragile flower, may retain its beauty but makes new growth impossible.
The video piece combines and contrasts footage of ourselves with various local flora, edited in a way that speaks to collection and documentation; the process one goes through when making a herbarium.