Plantarians, 2017-2020

Ellie Kyungran Heo (South Korea/UK)

An English-style garden, a plot of earth in New York’s Central Park, a garden and a cemetery in Maastricht: Plantarians asks, 'what does it mean to have a garden?' Divided into episodes, the film studies the capacity of garden plants to respond to the particularities of their surroundings; at the same time, it tracks the lives of the contemporary men and women who cultivate, enjoy, eat, obsess over, and even grieve with and for these plants.

Plantarians invites audiences to witness the codependent existence of Earth’s living organisms and to reflect on how this interdependence can be characterised by both conflict and intimacy.


This exhibition includes the following episodes of the series Plantarians:


- Plantarians, 2017, video, colour, sound, 10min.

Is a plant aware of what is happening around it? What does a plant see, hear, and feel as it is caught up in the food chain which binds together all living things?

- Neighbours, 2018, research still

What makes for a good neighbour? And expanding on that question, what makes a good neighbour for a plant?

- More Salad, huh?, 2018, video, colour, sound, 40sec.

- Barbers, 2018, video, colour, sound, 3min.

There are barbers who try to introduce beauty to the world. What is beauty to a human being? What constitutes beauty in the plants that we humans desire?

- Escapee, 2020, video, colour, sound, 5min.

Who is this that tries, barefoot, to break the concrete wall, attempting to escape the limited space of life?

- The Hunger, 2020, video, colour, sound, 7min.

In Central Park, New York City, living beings starving both physically and intellectually exist with an extreme attachment to, even an obsession with, nature. Tracking the lives of Central Park’s plants and the beings that long for these plants, "The Hunger" maps the ways in which these creatures affect one another in their respective desires for enjoyment and their efforts to survive.

- The Garden on Your Belly, 2020, video, colour, sound, 12min.

A man holding a heavy watering can walks along a path that feels almost too long and somehow strange. Passing through a place where there are kisses yet also sighs, the camera finds the beings that offer a kind of consolation to humans who have no strength before life and death.

- Appendix, 2020, video installation, colour, sound, 4min. loop

Why is it that we place a plant in a pot, constricting its ability to grow and occupy physical space?


Ellie Kyungran Heo is an artist-filmmaker. Based on research conducted in the field, Heo's films combine elements from the genres of documentary and performance art to explore points of tension between the anthropological and the ecological. Heo’s work is influenced by the writings of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, who theorised the interface between the Self and the Other in terms of a meeting between singularities. Harnessing Levinas’s insights into the relationship between humans and their environment, Heo seeks to illuminate those dimensions of the sustainability conversation that arise in our everyday lives and that relate to how we meet the Other ‘face-to-face’.

This exhibition is supported by the Arts Council Korea.

Med stöd av
Arts Council Korea