The Showroom

Symposium: Theatrum Botanicum and Other Forms of Knowledge

Saturday 29 October
Free, no booking required


An afternoon symposium speakers convened by Uriel Orlow and Shela Sheikh with invited speakers Sita Balani, Jason Irving and Philippe Zourgane. The symposium will respond to themes in Orlow's exhibition Mafavuke’s Trial and Other Plant Stories, and explore aspects of knowledge production and suppression both historically and in the present moment though the lens of the botanical and the postcolonial.

Shela Sheikh is Lecturer at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths (University of London), where she convenes the MA in Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy. Prior to this, she was Research Fellow and Publications Coordinator on the ERC Forensic Architecture project (Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths). Her current projects include a monograph on martyr 'video-testimonies' a special issue of Third Text (co-edited with Ros Gray), Botanical Conflicts on the Wretched Earth and an edited collection (with Matthew Fuller) Cultivation: Vegetal Lives, Global Systems and the Politics of Planting.

Sita Balani is a PhD candidate in the English Department at King’s College London. She is also an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths (University of London) and Birkbeck College. Her research explores neoliberalism and national identity in contemporary British cultural production, drawing on novels, memoirs, films and performances. In particular, she is concerned with how race and sexuality are constructed; her work traces the roots of these constructions in colonial science. She has contributed to Feminist Review, Ceasefire, Photoworks, and Novara Media.

Jason Irving is a forager, herbalist and ethnobotanist. He works at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on the Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) project, which has created a global resource for plant names that connects common and pharmaceutical names used in herbal medicine and taxonomy. He studied International Politics at SOAS and Herbal Medicine at UEL, and his own research explores the global trade in medicinal plants and the relationship between regulatory regimes and standards, health and livelihoods. He runs regular foraging courses in London and is co-author of the book The Gardener’s Companion to Medicinal Plants.

Philippe Zourgane is an architect, assistant professor of Theory and Practice of Architecture in Paris (ENSA Paris Val de Seine). He is a co-founder, with Séverine Roussel, of RozO architectes, a multidisciplinary organisation working on the existing urban fabric as
well as new building projects and art installations. He is currently writing several books and will publish The Politics of Vegetation for Eterotopia France / Rhizome in 2017.

This event is organised as part of Uriel Orlow's exhibition Mafavuke’s Trial and Other Plant Stories. The exhibition is commissioned by The Showroom (London) in association with Parc Saint Léger, Contemporary art centre (France), Bluecoat (Liverpool), and Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle upon Tyne). The project is supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award, Arts Council England, Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation, Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council, A4 Arts Foundation, Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN) and The Embassy of Switzerland in the United Kingdom. A forthcoming publication Theatrum Botanicum is supported by the Henry Moore Foundation.

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    Publication Uriel Orlow: Theatrum Botanicum

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    Exhibition Uriel Orlow: Mafavuke’s Trial and Other Plant Stories

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