Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

Céline Baumann, FR

If plants are our oldest teachers, as Céline Baumann surmises, what might we learn from them? What knowledge, which stories do they have to share?

One key lesson to be learned from the botanical world would be the ubiquity of queerness. No matter where you look in nature, it’s there. As part of an ongoing investigation into the diversity of gender expression and sexual behaviour in plants, Baumann brings together specimens, illustrations, pictures and stories.

Yet the research she presents in her herbarium and video goes beyond the mere recognition that plants are often unisexual or bisexual, hermaphroditic or transitionally transgender, depending on their age, the time of day or environmental conditions.

What she endeavours to convey, rather, is that such knowledge can be put to good use: to make the ground we live on – whether on a domestic, urban or national level – “porous and permeable” and “welcoming” for all.