Tobacco plants have been cultivated by humans since thousands of years and have come to fulfill different purposes over time. The museum installation Plant Stories gives an insight into the diverse history of tobacco and invites to experience it from a past, present and future perspective.
The living garden contains different tobacco varieties, each of them linked to a related story. Four monologues can be listened through the headphones, narrated by characters from different times: a Native American reflecting on the spiritual use of tobacco; a historian thinking about the history of the plant; a scientist working on modifying its genome to support the production of a COVID-19 vaccine; and a tobacco farmer planting crops created by researchers for new uses.
The installation also invites visitors to think about the future role of tobacco plants, when considering the posibility of gene editing. By sharing their speculative plant ideas and completing the prints, visitors contribute to the creation of a collective catalogue of fictional plants. Through this collaborative effort the narrative of the installation evolves throughout the course of the exhibition, paralleling the constant change of its organic content.
Produced by Biofaction KG Austria, together with Ege Kökel, Markus Schmidt and Sandra Youssef
Newcotiana has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreements No. 760331.