Howto: Use Nature
An exhibition in a greenhouse
Greenhose Mertens, Düsseldorf
INSTALLATION VIEW: HOWTO: USE NATURE, 2022
PHOTO: KAI WERNER SCHMIDT
HOWTO: USE NATURE
an exhibition in the greenhouse of the former “Mertens” nursery, Düsseldorf
Liza Dieckwisch · Arpad Dobriban · Friederike Haug · Jungwoon Kim · Martin Schwenk · Tanja Kodlin & Ramòn Graefenstein · Markus Hiesleitner · Katharina Veerkamp
Curated by Liza Dieckwisch, Arpad Dobriban, Jungwoon Kim and Katharina Veerkamp
In the suburban neighborhood of Volmerswerth in Düsseldorf, several rows of greenhouses are located directly on the Rhine. In the exhibition HOWTO: USE NATURE, nine artists interact with the architecture of one of these greenhouses as a closed unit of agricultural production. Now appropriated as an exhibition space, the greenhouse was formerly part of a medium-sized nursery that sold houseplants at weekly markets, among other items. Across approximately 500 square meters, HOWTO: USE NATURE presents an ecosystem of artistic works that deal with plant life, the intertwining of natural and cultural history, and questions of industrial production.
If a ’how to’ is a set of instructions, then here, it is a set of instructions on how to use nature. HOWTO: USE NATURE questions current logics of exploitation and contemporary Western culture as a way of life that is characterized by permanent availability. Functionalization has become the decisive way of viewing the world and oneself. However, that which is referred to as nature is by no means clean-cut. Rather, the exhibited works investigate the absolute entanglement of nature and culture, and the complex interdependencies in which human life is embedded – on the level of the material, as well as the imaginary.
Through its glass panels, sunlight can enter unimpeded into the greenhouse, while the resulting warmth is retained inside the system. A similar process is at play in the atmosphere – that wafer-thin membrane surrounding the earth. The natural greenhouse effect is a precondition for life on earth. Its amplification through human interference, however, calls current constellations of life on the planet into question.
The artists of HOWTO: USE NATURE work with the climatic conditions of the greenhouse, using it as an experiential space, and investigating that which divides inside from outside: the membrane that exists in between. The greenhouse is reflected in its functionality between economic and ecological constellations; plant life in its entanglement with logics of exploitation and practices of mutual care – between categorization, control, and the loss thereof.
Lena Johanna Reisner