'One flower, one leaf' is a participative project investigating the urban vegetation and calling a group of locals to be active part of the work.
Each chapter is strictly related with the landscape where it takes place. The chosen locations are ruderal areas; spots are often locate near water basins, rivers, or close to big streets.
This areas are particularly rich in species, very representative of the migration paths of the flora.
Ruderal areas play a special role in the development of the urban weeds, being a very dynamic and accommodating incubator for pioneer species. Waterfronts, highways’ side walks, areas left unconstructed or urban borders in general, are for its own nature a place of exchange and encounters, a first meeting point with newcomers. This applies to people but also to plant species.
Reconstructing the components of the spontaneous flora means often to reconstruct the proliferation path of seeds and also of human beings, since the one is often consciously or unconsciously transporting the other.
In his “rubble flora”, Herbert Sukopp, Berlin-based urban ecologist, conduce long term field studies on plants growing in Berlin’s rubble following World War II.
Some nowadays very common species, hide an interesting migration story. Examples are the Ailanthus Altissima (or Three of Heaven) arrived from China and rapidly implanted in all Europe, the Sticky Goosefoot, a mediterranean species, or Artemisia Vulgaris originally from north America.
This melting pot can be read as the direct reflection of the human paths and historical events.
“Ikebana is about encounters” (Teshigahara Sofu, Kadensho). O.f,o.l. wants to collect the diversity of the
flora in different places and combine the traditional art of Ikebana with a contemporary view of the city.
The value of emptiness, the concept of time passing and process of de-contextualization are recurring themes in this art as well as in my approach to photography.
After working in different areas of Europe, having the chance to bring back the project to Japan, the land where much of its inspiration comes, would be a meaningful occasion for growth.
Contemporary metropolis, are more and more covered by cement, and not designed green areas are very rare.
For this reason it would be a even more challenging field for a new episode of “One flower, one leaf”, diving in the city and calling the inhabitants to participate in my research.
A deeper observation of the nonhuman presence in the city, trains a new way of sensing the environment in which we live. Engaging inhabitants with urban spontaneous plants helps them to identify with the
The laboratory is held in collaboration with an Ikebana teacher. Through the research proposed in my practice, the workshop tackles themes such as: the study of the urban residual areas, the traces of human intervention on vegetation, the notions of time and emptiness, as well as the power of the “de-contextualization” process to bring into new light details usually considered ‘minor’.
The photographic documentation of all the episodes constitutes a portrait and a map of this specific landscape through compositions of spontaneous plants, that is confronted with other urban contexts where the workshop took place.
A growing selection of this archive, printed and framed, is the core of the artworks documenting the whole process. The materials produced in each location, are also portrayed in a photo box containing all the still-life images and the informations about the area and the timing of harvest.
In occasion of some of the previous exhibitions, following the same path of the workshop, I created a site-specific intervention together with the Ikebana teacher, condensing local ruderal nature in an ephemeral mutating sculpture.
The materials used has been harvest on location selecting the plants available at the time.
The installations, have been exhibited close to the photo series for the whole period of the show, assuming day after day new semblances and colours.
For further information about the project
'One flower, one leaf'
Martina Della Valle