Signals From Roots To Leaves: A post-botanical assembly

ONLINE: Screening Chapter #6 1/2,

Curated by Suza Husse with and for Maguey (Agave), Ceiba, Qirnefîl (Carnation), Riesenschilf (Giant reed) and Đa búp đỏ (Rubber tree) in the Botanical Garden Olomouc


Sowing pumpkin, maize, beans, chickpeas
And common lands
Among assemblies and collective decisions
Organization of life without political parties

Your parents taught you to love the land
That’s why you defend it in times of war
In times of war called dispossession
Ecological catastrophe disguised as development
Extractive industries hiring killers
Destruction of millenary worlds

– Excerpt from the song Rosy by Naomi Rincón Gallardo and Yadhi Boz ft Doma, in: Resiliencia Tlacuache (Opossum Resilience), 2019.

Signals From Roots To Leaves: A Post-botanical Assembly approaches the Botanical Garden in Olomouc as a site where post-socialist and post-colonial ecologies and cultures intersect. Here, Agave, Ceiba, Rubber tree, Reeds and Carnation who live in the palm house, the subtropical greenhouse and under the open sky in Olomouc are convened with a group of artists and healers whose work and knowledge resonates with specific trans*species connections, histories and futures they embody. Eco-poetical and queer/kuir*feminist soundings of counter worlds to the coloniality of botany in the service of extraction, these dialogues are accompanied by a group of opulent post-botanical hybrid bodies that have been dreamed up by Anna Zemánková in 1960s and 1970s Czechoslovakia.


The Language of Plants
A conversation between a Ceiba tree in Olomouc and the knowledges of healer and midwife Ina Röder Sissoko and Suza Husse about medicinal, spiritual and political powers of plants at the intersection of Black feminism and post-/socialist herbalism. The conversation is accompanied by the post-botanical imaginaries by Anna Zemánková as well as materials from the video art and films by Anna Zett, Marwa Arsanios, Naomi Rincòn Gallardo and Phuong Linh Nguyen.

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# 1 3 – 6 December 2020

from the palm house in the Botanical Garden Olomouc dedicated to Agave/Mayahuel, one of the main characters in Naomi Rincón Gallardo’s Resiliencia Tlacuache (Opossum Resilience) from 2019 who find themselves in a non-linear temporality upon a landscape threatened by extractivist processes. Together they conjure the nahuas, Indigenous protectors of the land, and the intoxicating powers of festivity with the goal of keeping the vital forces aflame in times of danger.


between the participating plants in Olomouc and the contributing artists and their works.

# 2: 4 December, 5 pm CET # 2 Carnation & Marwa Arsanios
The wild carnation is one of a group of medicinal plants that grow across Kurdistan who make an appearance in Who Is Afraid of Ideology?. Based on conversations with members of the Kurdish autonomous women*s movement in guerrilla women*s houses in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan and a women* only commune in Northern Syria, her film explores the relationships between ideology and living practice, and, ecology as practice and theory.

#3: 5 December, 5 pm CET # 3 Giant Reeds & Anna Zett
Because of their ability to live within highly contaminated soils and detoxify them to considerable degrees, reeds survive by toxic lakes and rivers and are often planted around landfills. In Anna Zett’s eclectic documentary Freiheit 3 (Freedom 3) addressing the toxic remains of the German ex-country GDR, history assumes the shape of a dump – which is surrounded and processed by reeds.

#4: 6 December, 5 pm CET # 4 Rubber Tree & Phuong Linh Nguyen
The palm house in botanical garden in Olomouc hosts a big old Đa búp đỏ (rubber tree). Set in the haunting space of an ex-colonial rubber plantation in Central Vietnam, Phuong Linh Nguyen’s film Memory of the Blind Elephant is a tender portrait of the complex economies of interspecies trauma and resilience in the face continued extraction and destruction.


A co-production of PAF Olomouc – 19th Festival of Film Animation and Contemporary Art and D’EST in collaboration with the Botanical Gardens in Olomouc 

  • The audiovisual works of the eigth chapter “Obscene West and Flickering Love Bites” give us glimpses of the feminist video and performance art in the early post-socialist period. The capitalist mode of (artistic) production and the inclusion of the Eastern European countries in the global economy are the material background of the works which use the themes of femininity, gendered relations, sexuality, sexual perversion, and violence to articulate a critical reflection on the complex ramifications of the post-socialist condition in art and broader society.

    → See the screening dates in the Program

  • “Imagined Community VIII: My Significant Others” stirs up cultural narratives that have been excluding significant herstories. Five audiovisual works by female artists present feminist forebears as well as undiscovered inspirational female figures, who struggle to become part of the official artistic and political history. Women artists enter into a dialog with overlooked or fictitious personalities from the cultural field and thereby touch upon cultural narratives that frame HerStories worth re-telling.

    → See the screening dates in the Program

  • “Signals From Roots To Leaves” approaches the Botanical Garden in Olomouc as a site where post-socialist and post-colonial ecologies and cultures intersect. Here, Agave, Ceiba, Rubber tree, Reeds and Carnation who live in the palm house, the subtropical greenhouse and under the open sky in Olomouc are convened together with a group of artists and healers whose work and knowledge resonates with specific trans*species connections and ecological histories they carry.

    → See the screening dates in the Program

  • The screening chapter “ReTopia” acknowledges “post-socialism” not only as a continental but also as a global phenomenon, though with palpable regional specificity and intensity. It looks at transitional shifts and modes of remembrance of historical processes that evoke forms – rejected, outmoded, disposed from power, gender political, architectural, and even full of potential. Without being afraid of utopian ideology, it looks back and forth and sideways in search of radically different futures.

    → See the screening dates in the Program

  • Entwining autobiographical, historical, and fictional narratives, this screening program examines generational, personal, and political frictions, breaks and entanglements, taking place in the dystopian context of post-1989. The tension bears down on the sphere of the personal and the political maintained through the relationship of the four figures: the figure of Neighbor, the figure of Mother, the figure of Lover and the figure of Other.

    → See the screening dates in the Program

  • The chapter examines the body as a collective, as a singular entity, as a social choreography of an alliance of states, as an organless, cognitive-capitalist, cerebral network, as a corporeal reading instrument of past, former socialist indices, as a place of textual and discursive inscription, but also as a genuine place of affective encounters and material practices. The curators focus on video works and films that flare up the affective, somaesthetic, relational and transformative potentials of the body after 1989 / 1991.

    → See the screening dates in the Program

  • Political protocol tends to dispossess, overwrite, and refurbish unwanted narratives. Parallel to this, there are new agencies that enhance the intersections, reciprocities, and movements between bodies, spaces, objects, and memories. The video art and experimental film works of COSMOS COSMETICS: Unresting Memoryscapes and Corpofictions are concerned with architectural, corporeal, and phantasmatic materializations of internalized mnemonic, and bio-political regimes. Meanwhile they address surface porosities and subcutaneous layers of post-socialist cities. Hence this chapter of screenings in D’EST brings together artistic strategies and methods for unsettling, decontaminating, and queering artificial mono-histories, which stem from the urge to untag and distance the subject from the constraints of conformity, imposed belonging to a certain ethnic group or community, and identitarian politics in general.

    → See the screening dates in the Program

  • The changing role and function of language before and after the “transition” cannot be discussed without considering the dimension of authoritarian speech acts in the last phase of socialism. Anthropologist Alexei Yurchak shares the observation that during the authoritarian speech act, sign and reference, language and gesture, word and action merge into each other. This thesis is the foundation for an understanding of the variety of linguistic and performative experiments in post-socialist video art. The curators will focus on video works that reflect upon shifts in language and meaning and employ diverse silent, verbal, performative, activist, and other strategies to discuss collective and personal memory, identity, power relations, gender roles, and socio-political change.

    → See the screening dates in the Program

  • The curatorial selection The Suspension and Excess of Time explores the role of time within a period of radical political, social, and economical change. The selected video works focus on the changes different societies were going through during the Perestroika era, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the soviet empire. Paying tribute to speculative temporalities, curators Becker and Seehusen will trace people’s everyday experiences in the former “East” and “West” before and after 1989 / 1991.

    → See the screening dates in the Program

  • In 1957, Roland Barthes stated that in “Western” mythology the USSR would be a world halfway between the Earth and Mars to exemplify that the communist world was considered as foreign as another planet. Similar to Barthes’ literary method in his Mythologies book, curator, filmmaker and artist Xandra Popescu scripted three semi-fictional short stories to introduce major paradigms of her screening program O’ Mystical East and West.

    → See the screening dates in the Program