Public Forum
In House: Artist in Residence

Botanical Comrades 植物同志

Plants Practice Politics with Zheng Bo

Watch the livestream here

On 7 November, which marks the Solar Term Beginning of Winter (立冬) in the East Asian lunisolar calendar, artist and theorist Zheng Bo will be joined by biologists Regine Hengge, Roosa Laitinen and Matthias Rillig to speculate about how plants practice politics.

Zheng Bo, After Science Garden, 2018. A collaborative project with Diane Willow. Katherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 2018

Zheng Bo, After Science Garden, 2018. A collaborative project with Diane Willow. Katherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 2018

© Zheng Bo. Image courtesy of the artist and Edouard Malingue Gallery

  • 240 min
  • In English

Past Dates

Live Broadcast
This event is broadcast here.

Zheng understands politics as a bodily practice that can only take place in exchange with others, particularly through interspecies relationships. For instance, trees are protected and nourished by fungi, while insects are responsible for pollination. Botanical Comrades 植物同志. Plants Practice Politics examines forms of interspecies communication and asks how humans can take part in interspecies politics.

  • 13:00–13:10
    Introduction by Stephanie Rosenthal, Director of the Gropius Bau
  • 13:10–14:00
    Conversation with Regine Hengge & Zheng Bo
  • 14:30–15:15
    Walk with Roosa Laitinen & Zheng Bo
  • 16:00–17:00
    Round table discussion with Matthias Rillig, Roosa Laitinen, Regine Hengge & Zheng Bo

Regine Hengge is a Professor of Microbiology and Principal Investigator at the excellence cluster Matters of Activity (MoA) at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Using Escherichia coli as an example, her research group is investigating the genetic mechanisms and regulatory networks underlying the growth and morphogenesis of biofilms and their interaction with plants. In the context of MoA she works on the structure, form and function of biofilms with regard to design processes within and with “active matter”.

Roosa Laitinen is head of the research group Molecular Mechanisms of Plant Adaptation at the Max Planck Institute in Potsdam. She investigates mechanisms of evolution in plants in order to understand how they respond to environmental changes. In her research, Laitinen uses the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, which grows naturally across the world in various habitats and is a model organism for genetics and molecular biology in plants.

Matthias Rillig is Professor of Ecology at the Institute of Biology at the Freie Universität Berlin and head of the research group Ecology of Plants. Rillig is also director of the Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research. In his scientific work, he investigates the symbiosis of mycorrhizal fungi with plants as well as the effects of climate crisis and globalisation on soil processes and soil biodiversity. Rillig heads several joint projects, including µPlastic, which studies the effects of microplastics on agricultural soils.

As this year’s In House: Artist in Residence at the Gropius Bau, artist and theorist Zheng Bo explores how plants can become part of a political idea. Past and future are the central parameters of his politically and scientifically informed artistic practice, in which he deals with socio-economic themes and the relationship between humans and nature.

In cooperation with

Schering Stiftung

Botanical Comrades 植物同志. Plants Practice Politics is part of Berlin Science Week 2020.

Berlin Science Week