The Showroom
Publication

Uriel Orlow: Theatrum Botanicum

Edited by Shela Sheikh and Uriel Orlow
Published by Sternberg Press

Launch events

Saturday 16 June
3pm
Teatro Garibaldi, Palermo
(part of Manifesta opening days)

Thursday 21 June
7pm
Whitechapel Gallery, London
London premiere of Orlow’s Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal), followed by a discussion between Uriel Orlow, Emily Pethick and Shela Sheikh and the launch of Theatrum Botanicum
Book here

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This publication emerges from Uriel Orlow’s Theatrum Botanicum (2015–2018), a multi-faceted project encompassing film, sound, photography and installation, commissioned by and exhibited at the Showroom in an early version in 2016. Theatrum Botanicum looks to the botanical world as a stage for politics. Working from the dual vantage points of South Africa and Europe, the project considers plants as both witnesses to, and dynamic agents in, history. It links nature and humans, rural and cosmopolitan medicine, tradition and modernity across different geographies, histories, and systems of knowledge—exploring the variety of curative, spiritual, and economic powers of plants. The project addresses “botanical nationalism” and “flower diplomacy” during apartheid; plant migration; the role and legacies of the imperial classification and naming of plants; bioprospecting and biopiracy; and the garden planted by Nelson Mandela and his fellow inmates at Robben Island prison.

This publication is made up of two intertwining books: one documents the works of Theatrum Botanicum, including the scripts for two films; the second is a compendium of brief, commissioned essays that aims to offer an accessible snapshot of the complex and multifaceted issues that inform and are raised by the artworks. The independent but interrelated essays, which either speak directly to the artworks or follow lines of inquiry alongside them, cover perspectives from postcolonial cultural studies; art criticism and art history; natural history, botany (including ethnobotany and economic botany), and conservation; jurisprudence and critical legal studies; and critical race studies.

Contributors:
Sita Balani
Melanie Boehi
Clelia Coussonet
Karen Flint
Jason T.W. Irving
Nomusa Makhubu
Bettina Malcomess
Karin van Marle
Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll

Design by In the shade of a tree (Samuel Bonnet, Sophie Demay and Maël Fournier-Comte)

Supported by Arts Council England, The Henry Moore Foundation, The University of Westminster, Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen, Parc Saint Léger - Centre d'art contemporain, Parco Arte Vivente (PAV) Turin, and Corner College Zürich.

  1. Uriel_orlowshowroom-002
    Exhibition Uriel Orlow: Mafavuke’s Trial and Other Plant Stories

  2. Uriel_orlow__showroom-003
    Event Symposium: Theatrum Botanicum and Other Forms of Knowledge

  3. Uriel_orlow__showroom-003
    Audio Symposium: Theatrum Botanicum and Other Forms of Knowledge

  4. Home_and_colonial_stores
    Event Uriel Orlow and Cooking Sections: Better, More Exotic and Half a Penny Cheaper

  5. Uriel_orlow_-_mandela's_gold-02
    Limited Edition Uriel Orlow: Mandela’s Gold

  6. Showroom_-_uriel_tincture-ointment_workshop_dan_weill_photography-154
    Event Putting the Medicinal Garden to Use

  7. Showroom-medicinal_garden-uriel_dan_weill_photography-58
    Event Medicinal garden launch and tour with Uriel Orlow and Michael Heinrich