Republic of seeds

‘Plants in the age of 21st-century planetary crises demand attention, reflection and, above all, legal and institutional protection and a subjective status. “The Republic of Seeds” illustrates the transformation, from an object of violence to a symbol of biodiversity. It is a despairing manifesto and a universal commentary on the violence that surrounds natural wealth.



It is no accident that the institutions that store plant DNA are called banks. Throughout the modern era, seeds and seedlings were the seeds of wealth. On which a long shadow of violence was cast.
Its origins are increasingly attributed to Christopher Columbus’s landing on the shores of Hispaniola, now Haiti, at the end of the 15th century. From accounts of his seemingly innocent exploration of America, we know that Columbus methodically sniffed the bark of unfamiliar trees as he traversed the island.

He also gouged out the roots to taste their sap. Convinced that he had reached India, he searched for cinnamon, cloves and ginger. He wanted to fill the holds of the caravels he commanded with such gold.

As late as the 18th century, access to exotic spices was still strictly regulated, a sign not only of the high social status of the citizens using them but also of the supremacy of states. And this was fought for with brutal methods. Participants of the Dutch East India Company took over the Bond Islands, murdered and displaced the rightful inhabitants, in order to bring in slaves, forced to grow trees and harvest hard nutmeg seeds.

A brutal, by 21st-century standards, the unveiling of this game
is now taking place across our eastern border. After the Western world has already partially undergone a process of colonisation rehab, Russia has become the primary seedbed of direct violence, motivated by land conquest and vaguely explained by a historical mission. It affected not only the civilian population but also nature reserves or supply chains enabling the sale of Ukrainian grain on global markets.
One of the symbolic moments in this clumsy return to primitive practices of destruction was the attack on the gene bank in Kharkiv.



Republic of Seeds’ is a painting installation that reverses the logic of eternal violence and liberates plants from it. The artist bought canvas bags from the warehouses of military property agencies, which she then stripped of their original functions by ripping out the seams.

She used the resulting fabric, which was no longer suitable for storing and transporting military equipment, as a base for her paintings. In her characteristic manner, the artist filled the transformed canvases with “portraits” of plants, which are devoid of any reference to botanical systematics. They thus escape not only the logic of violence but also any categorisation or evaluation in terms of the status of individual species in a botanical atlas or their usefulness in economic activities.

The main installation is accompanied by a series of
spare drawings, and a smaller installation creating the environment of a laboratory destroyed by the bombing. They broaden the perspective by providing an insight into the past and future fate of the relationship between man and nature. The drawings resemble lost blueprints for new plants, created by man through the introduction of genetic mutations. The black outline, as well as the white of the paper blending into the background of the wall, direct associations towards the culture of Japan, in which white is the colour of mourning. The drawings hung at equal intervals fill the entire wall, creating a columbarium, a collective tomb reminiscent of a brick wall. Next to it, on the ruins of an abandoned laboratory, there are symptoms of spontaneous plant growth, nature reviving all the more luxuriantly where man is no longer present.

     Republic of seeds, BWA Krosno, 28.04 – 03.06.2023.

collection of works


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