Plants are marvellous. They can be single-gendered or hermaphrodite, male or female, single or part of a couple. Plants can be polypetalous, swollen or even puffy. They can have flowers like lips, a flat crown or bell-like blooms. There are more than 350,000 types of plants in the world. One-fifth of them are threatened with extinction due to climate change, urbanisation and invasive species.
This issue is a matter of concern to the two artists, Kigge Hvid and Sara Flyvbjerg of JA Studio in Copenhagen, which is why they use plants as their artistic fuel. From 8 February to 5 April, visitors will have an opportunity to view a small selection of their works at Augustiana in Augustenborg.
The work Lab Grown predicts a potential future, in which biodiversity has diminished to such an extent that the only way we can create beauty, food and oxygen is by growing plants in laboratories. In Memories I-III, Kigge Hvid of JA Studio has created three site-specific works, using dried plants and flowers found in the Mansion’s attic in 2019.
Lab Grown was designed in September 2019 for the INDEX Award ceremony – the largest design award in the world. In this work, Kigge Hvid and Sara Flyvbjerg of JA Studio look at a potential future, in which biodiversity has diminished to such an extent that the only way we can create beauty, food and oxygen is by growing plants in laboratories. Lab Grown is made up of 7 display cases, showing what such a process might be like.
In 1786, when barely 15 years old, Princess Louise Augusta became the Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sønderborg-Augustenborg, when she married the 20-year-old Prince Frederik Christian of Augustenborg. As a child, she was known as ‘La petite Struensee’, since she was allegedly the illegitimate daughter of the English-born, Danish queen Caroline Mathilde and the Prussian count and cabinet minister, J.F. Struensee. In her old age, Louise Augusta lived in the White Mansion at Augustenborg Palace. When the mansion was converted into Augustiana Art Gallery, old dried flowers and plants were discovered in the attic. They were attached to clothes lines with rotting woollen thread, twine and rusty metal wires. We have no idea how old the plants are.
Kigge Hvid created Memories I using these dried, later processed botanical elements from the attic, subtly reflecting the Duchess’s time in the Mansion. The memory is of grand frocks, adorable jewels and live birds, of sumptuous dinner parties, exotic flowers, arts and crafts, and choice silks. The work also depicts the notion of three farewell letters, written on their deathbeds by the parents and the king to their daughter and bastard.
In 1932, having been a Duke’s residence and subsequently a seminary, Augustenborg Palace became a state hospital, and remained so until 2015. During the same period, the White Palace served as a residence for the chief consultant and a leisure facility for the patients. In 2019, old dried flowers and plants were discovered in the attic. They were attached to clothes lines with rotting woollen thread, twine and rusty metal wires.
This work contains these dried, later processed botanical elements, and evokes the period when the Mansion was a psychiatric ward. The memories are of alienation from one’s self and one’s surroundings, of difference and anxiety, of treatment, medication and restraint, of emptiness and idleness.
In 2019, old dried flowers and plants were discovered in the Mansion’s attic. They were attached to clothes lines with rotting woollen thread, twine and rusty metal wires. But the roots were never discovered, leaving us with little in-depth knowledge of the plants, where they came from and how they had lived.
Materials: flowers and plants, paint, glue, pigment, silk, feathers, acrylic, hypodermic needles, rubber, glass, wool, cotton, metal.