Presentation of the project
How do we perceive ruderal plants, also called ‘weeds’, in the city? With my project Urban Herbarium, I try to question our sensitivity towards the flora growing in urban space.
The project consists of interventions in public space by painting around different ruderal plants that grow on the pavements. On a map, the precise locations of the identified plants are marked, and their botanical names are noted. In this way, I try to break away from the hierarchy and classification of plants (and their associated values) by allowing another look, by making account of their potential.
The intention of this project is to locate different ruderal plants in cities to highlight their diversity and resilience, two qualities that are also important in human communities. I think that cartographies are creative tools to make new connections between things, especially between nature and urban space. Which plants grow in which corners, and for what reasons? Such questions could lead us to a better understanding of connections between ecosystems and urban spaces or industrial areas.
For the Diffmix Project, I plan to develop this project on a participatory scale by inviting citizens of all backgrounds and ages, especially young people, to paint the pavements around ruderal plants. This can take place in the form of different workshops: first, the participants are made aware of the diversity of “wild” plants growing in the city without human intervention. Then they learn how to create their own biodegradable and non-toxic paint using natural pigments. In a final step, the urban space will be painted, and the action can be documented to create an herbarium map.
How will it work?
The main material that will be used is a non-toxic biodegradable paint made out of water, flour, oil and natural pigments. The paint needs to be heated, i.e. “cooked”, to be functional. It can be put on with big brushes on pavements and concrete. In order to identify the different species of ruderal plants and gain some botanical knowledge, I also offer to work with plant-identifying apps downloadable on smartphones, such as PictureThis.
The construction of the map could be done interactively, for example by creating digital paintings at first in order to familiarize with the structure of the city of Differdange and its different sites. Then, the participants could use a mapping platform such as OpenStreetMap to locate the different ruderal plants marked through the city. The idea is to share knowledge and experiences, to make the map public and accessible online, so that interested people can start searching for the plants. Perhaps some will even share their research and discoveries on social networks, which could inspire others again, and so on.
This project will be focused on Place des Alliés, but there is nothing to stop us from going further and explore other spaces in Differdange where ruderal plants and industrial elements coexist. The project can be adapted to the site’s specificities and the citizen’s interests.
In the images here below, you see the result of an Urban Herbarium project I did in Strasbourg in spring 2021.
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I’m looking forward to meeting you!