Plant Plant
Solo exhibition, Katrin Hornek
©Katrin Hornek, Plant Plant, still da video, 2021
11 December 2021
10:00 – 17:00
Lunch break 1pm-3pm

ar/ge kunst and BAU present Plant Plant, a project by artist Katrin Hornek emerging from her research in South Tyrol between 2020 and 2021 within the context of ar/ge kunst’s One Year-Long Research Project/Fifth edition and the BAU Residency.

The exhibition of Katrin Hornek presents a new film and a series of sculptures that situate the chemical element of nitrogen as the prism through which to look at the history of fertilizer production with its immediate and planetary entanglements.
Hornek roots her research into the site of the former Montecatini factory in Sinigo, Merano, a manufacturing plant established by Benito Mussolini in 1924 to produce ammonia — a basic element in fertilizers and explosives. When built, this factory was the second largest in Europe after Germany’s IG Farben and was part of a stringent program of South Tyrolean industrialization and self-sufficiency for Italy.

Using a speculative approach, Hornek follows the technological developments that led to the invention of synthetically fixed nitrogen in 1911, intertwining it with the chronicles and vicissitudes of the factory workers — both in the 1920s and the 1970s. The choice of assuming both a molecular and earthly perspective to narrate this history makes graspable the otherwise invisible reciprocity and continuity across human-, land-, animal- and techno-bodies. ‘We make these fertilizers travel. From the atmosphere into the factories. From the factories into the fields. From the soil into the plants. From the plants into the human bodies. Into the bodies of livestock…Building all proteins, all hormones, all DNA for the world’s populations’ the voice-over in the film narrates. Accordingly, Plant Plant unfolds along this trajectory to arrive at the present-day use of ammonia and the consequences of its production, which provide fertile ground for the expansion of the chemicals industry.

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