Witnessing a conversation between fauna and flora
We look at flowers enchanted by the opening and closing of their blossoms. Assigning our human understanding to this activity, we call it clock. These plants react to light and weather, and display a visible circadian rhythm. However, the precision of the time measurement depends on more than just the sun and the season.
The flower clock with its wide open blossoms is an invitation to pollinating insects and part of a conversation to negotiate survival. The insect guests influence what we might call the correct reading of time: flowers that are not visited and pollinated, stay open longer than expected, providing more opportunity for insects to visit. A lack of visitors slows down the flower clock.
Closed petals might indicate a satisfied plant who was successfully visited by pollinators rather than a particular time of day, after all.
“Who will pollinate the Flower Clock” is an installation and an invitation to decelerate, and tune into plant-time.
How do plants know time? How do they attune to rhythms of day and night? How slow do they open and close their petals? How long do they blossom so that insects can visit them?
The installation calls the spectator to engage with plants and their perception of time. It speaks out invitations, imposes urgencies and promises consolation.
Will we be able to read the time? How urgent is it to read this time?
In a collaboration with Hotbox, Christina proposes intimate encounters with floral life forms, with potentially unexpected outcomes.
“Who will pollinate the Flower Clock” - a reenactment of an inconclusive experiment by Carl van Linné’s. It is said that Carl Linnaeus (renowned 18th century botanist from Sweden) had a big window in his office overlooking the botanic garden of Uppsala, where he was busy naming and categorizing fauna and flora. His view was on a patch with flowers, that were particular: they would open and close their petals at specific moments in the day, displaying a circadian rhythm. From observing the plant ensemble, Linné was able to read the time of the day. The selected and arranged blossoms were a clock of sorts – a flower clock.
It is contested amongst historians and botanists if Linné’s flower clock ever worked, or even existed.
In the summer of 2021, a variation of the flower clock is planted for the Mänttä visual art festival, in front of the Museum Pekilo. The selection of plants features endemic Finnish species that are perennial. Also, all plants are chosen to be attractive for insect pollinators and provide a harvest of pollen and nectar for a variety of insects like wild bees, bumblebees, beetles, butterflies and others.
Christina Stadlbauer is an artist and researcher, speculating on finding means to communicate with other species. In her practice, she proposes new views on plants and animals and creates situations for unexpected encounters.
Christina has launched several long term initiatives to engage with other than human life forms. Her work is process based and interdisciplinary, with installations, rituals, performances, often participatory. Christina obtained a PhD in Chemistry and graduated from Apass (advanced performance and scenography studies).