Guerrilla gardening, seed libraries, plant marches, and maintenance art come together in this touching and thoughtful group show on regenerative cultural gestures, curated by Mexican transdisciplinary artist Maru García in the 18th Street Arts Center’s spacious Airport Campus space.
Light floods the gallery, illuminating Peruvian artist Lucía Monge’s Plantón Móvil (Plant Walks), 2010–, an installation featuring a menagerie of potted plants on skateboards and roller skates and in wheelbarrows, led by another plant with a megaphone—the ringleader of this verdant protest. Behind these conscientious objectors is a video documenting a collection of Monge’s various Plantóns Móvil performances, which have taken place in various cities around the world over the past twelve years: demonstrations with plants being carried by humans—spilling out of arms or poking out of backpacks—to share in a moment of solidarity. Accompanying the work is a selection of gorgeous printed Plantón Móvil materials which, in part, explain why the plant-supporting dissenters walk: “ . . . plants borrow a speed noticeable by people and in return people may borrow some of their slowness . . . we move together to express our living-ness.”
To the right of this “protest” are a set of three sprouting oak seeds, suspended in bio gel in clear rectangular containers mounted on a wall, their roots clearly visible. This piece is part of Rebecca Youssef’s The Vanishing Canopy, 2022, a body of work inspired by a study from the Spatial Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, on the reduction of LA’s residential green cover. Due to mass-produced dwellings and home expansion, this cover has shrunk by as much as 55 percent between 2000 and 2009. As a gesture toward correcting this imbalance, Youssef cultivates five to six different oak varieties and plants approximately five thousand acorns each season in and around the Santa Monica Mountains. The Vanishing Canopy, and these pieces in particular, comment on the resilience and adaptability of oak trees, despite their restrictive and anthropocentric surroundings.