November 8 2019 – June 2020
opening event: Thursday, November 7 2019 7:00-9:00 PM
conversation with the artist: Saturday, November 9 2019 2:30-4:30 PM
Vinokur’s writes about Common Wealth:
I am defined by plants, some more so than others… and the garden is a place I return to over and over again.
Growing up in South Africa, focus was specifically drawn to indigenous plants- where they could be found, what their names were and how to best get them to grow. On every visit to the bush my mother would collect cuttings.
Flowers are minted into our money – tiny traveling Proteas.
Jan Smuts was a botanist. During Apartheid, the government deployed botany and particularly flowers, as propaganda tools. With sanctions imposed on almost everything, flowers could represent South Africa on the world stage at international flower shows and in botanical gardens.
Botanical gardens are predominantly framed as being beneficial to the environment and society. Historically they have been concerned with economic botany and taxonomy, and were also established as key infrastructure of European colonialism and imperialism. Little has been done to address this in the postcolonial era.
‘Plant Blindness’ is a form of cognitive bias that refers to the inability to notice or recognise the plants in one’s own environment. The term was coined in 1998 by the Botanical Society of America.
Mesembryanthemums (meaning: noon flowering) or ice plants are a large family of flowering succulents native to South Africa. The Ice plant, Carpobrotus Edulis was introduced to California in the early 1900’s as an erosion stabilisation tool. Contrary to this, the ice plant establishes itself by forming a large thick mat that chokes out all other native species and alters the soil composition of the environment
California’s native Purple Sage is a coastal species which requires no watering and is good for soil erosion.
In 2001 special agents for the US Fish and Wildlife Service carried out a covert investigation into the international smuggling of cycads from South Africa to the US. In a sting operation dubbed ‘Operation Botany’ two plant traffickers were apprehended for the illegal shipment of over $800 000 worth of these rare plants to San Francisco Airport. The ambiguity of the case resulted in light sentences for the men and government lawyers were forced to acknowledge that it was difficult to get stiff sentences for those who commit crimes against the environment.
In 1967 Everett Dirksen made an argument for designating the “native” marigold as the official emblem for the United States, nominating it for being national in character and symbolic of the pioneering spirit. The marigold is indigenous to Mexico, following a period of cultivation and naturalisation in Europe it was introduced to America in the 1700’s. Instead, the rose took the crown.
London-based Nicole Vinokur’s drawings, installations and video works are intricately layered arrangements that bring history, situation, provenance, material and process into correspondence; revealing the ways in which image systems are embedded in our historical and cultural narratives. Originally from Johannesburg South Africa, Vinokur has presented work and projects internationally, including RaumX, London; Camden Arts Centre, London; Art Night London; Shangri-La Studios, Beijing; Modern Art Projects, Cape Town; SHELF, London; Tintype Gallery, London; Bosse & Baum, London; Godart Gallery, Johannesburg; Caustic Coastal, Manchester and The 50th Venice Biennale, Venice. Vinokur graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2015.
For The Window Project, Nicole brings a particular interest in the impact of colonialism and immigration on local biodiversity, planting trends, native/invader/alien classifications and how plants become part of local culture and identity. www.nicolevinokur.com
machinaloci space is a place for playful research into alternative ways of being, thinking, and doing together. The Window Project @ machinaloci space is a series of commissioned artworks that contribute to the local public conversation by working with the shopfront windows as an interface that begins to dissolve the boundary between public and private.