The Cactus as an Instigator of Social Change

Dallas Contemporary, Dallas Texas, 2011

Multi-media installation in a museum drawer. The work explores dimensions of agency and objecthood while focusing on a seemingly ephemeral situation: a cactus placed in a man-made environment. Cacti are used as background decoration in Western Movies and private homes, they are classified and exhibited in botanical collections. What happens if one of them enters an art show?

Each drawer presented one aspect of a research phase carried out in Berlin, Paris and Alpine, Texas: a video in loop shows cacti in botanical and commercial environments; a loan agreement between artists and institution lifts the plant to the status of an “official” art work; schematic drawings and an interview with the owner of a nursery show strategies of the plant's adjustment to extreme situations and changes; a series of photos shifts the cactus into the centre of abandoned Western movie sets. Pulling different drawers allows to switch between different media and changing perspectives on the exhibited object.

Developed in the frame of Le Pavillon, laboratoire de creation du Palais de Tokyo
The work’s title is inspired by Stephen Willat’s The Artist as an Instigator of Changes in Social Cognition and Behaviour (book re-published in 2011).