Antique glass battery jar, Cumbrian soil, Cumbrian slate stones, live Hawaiian hibiscus cutting, moss, perlite
Transplant connects globalization, exotic plant trade, and the concept of “native” and “endemic” vs. “non-native” and “foreign.” Used to describe flora and fauna in conservation and ecology, the dialectic between indigenous and introduced species could be used to describe people and the movement of them into new lands. Transplant uses a cutting from a native Hawaiian hibiscus plant from Hawaii and embeds it in a condensed Cumbrian landscape, juxtaposing local and immigrant cultures.
From a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the beautiful yellow Maʻo hau hele is not only an endangered flower, but also a symbol for the State of Hawai`i. As western explorers returned from the islands with new specimens for scientific inquiry during the 18th century, today the journey of the plant eastward represents the plant’s foray into “exotic” European landscapes. Transplant reverses the construct of an endemic species found nowhere else in the world to actively populating a new area. By introducing a subtropical shrub to the temperate environment of the Cylinders Estate where it will likely perish without human intervention, Transplant challenges notions of immersion, diversity, monoculture and preservation of culture.
Materials used were found on location at Kurt Schwitter’s site of his last Merzbau, the Merz Barn at Cylinders Estate in Elterwater, Cumbria, UK. This work was created during the Merzbarn Environmental Engagement Residency with support from Littoral Arts and ArtFunkl.