People and plants
An exhibition by the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum
Curator: Kathrin Meyer
Plants are vital to mankind’s survival; and yet, all too often, they are overlooked and neglected. We are now barely aware of just how genuinely dependent we are on them, especially in our urban everyday lives. Indeed, the way plants are cultivated and processed into food and medicine, or as materials, has become more or less invisible.
With exhibits from the visual arts, literature and cultural history as well as biology, agricultural and forestry sciences, the exhibition focuses on our fellow plant-based beings and examines differing views of the flora that surrounds us. As a result, plants are showcased as nurtured miracles of nature, as complex living beings, as economic factors, food, or cultural product.
The exhibition suggests that the way we deal with plants reveals our ambivalent relationship with nature. On the one hand, we wish to preserve it intact, wild and unspoilt; on the other, we exploit it unsparingly in order to satisfy our needs. So do we need a new concept of nature, given the profound impact we human beings are having on our ecosystems? Would our view of the environment be a different one if the history of human civilisation had been a narrative of complicity, nurturing and simultaneous exploitation of plants and vegetation?