Juliette Warmenhoven’s artwork is about the juxtaposition of nature and nurture. Somehow that led her to stuff a bonsai tree in a homemade baby incubator and twirl sprouting potatoes around in cages that also happen to play classical music. That seems to settle it, doesn’t it? Culture wins, nature loses. QED.
Warmenhoven is a recent grad of ArtEZ, in the Netherlands, and the pieces are part of her final school project, Everyday Growing. On top of all that evil-man-controls-mother-nature business, she’s on a mission to put the pleasures of watching stuff sprout on a pedestal — literally. So the pixieish music box-cages (top) are supposed to show “the hidden beauty of the potato” and the incubator (above) is supposed to remind us that the “thing inside is so important you’ll do anything to keep it alive” (even though you only need to water it once a month). That they look like science experiments gone terribly wrong has to be by design. It takes all kinds of ugly to reveal what’s beautiful, right?
Everything, down to the water irrigation, is made by hand. The music boxes are cut out of paper then dipped in plastic, and the incubator is molded in liquid plastic and fiberglass. (Warmenhoven’s own green thumb might have something to do with the fact that her father is a flower farmer in the bulb capital of Holland.)
Here, we’ve got two vessels, one for growing roots, the other for sprouting seedlings. Warmenhoven tricked them out in passive irrigation systems — the tanks you see distribute controlled streams of water and the glass dome retains humidity:
That means that the plants require very little human effort to stay alive. Maybe nature wins, after all.
[For a full profile of the artist, check out Sight Unseen]