Mood of Doom in Oslo

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Stockholm-born photographer Helene Schmitz spent more than ten years exploring how nature is described and represented in science, art and literature. The mysterious Chinese killer climbing plant Kudzu has engulfed parts of southern USA, and there’s no way to stop it. Schmitz exhibition in Oslo runs through 11 June.

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“Biological Invasion” is the correct term for the spread of a species in an area where it is not native, and it can have immense effects on the ecosystem of an entire region.

Kudzu (pueraria lobate) is the worlds most aggressive and invasive plant species. Helene Schmitz strives through her photographs to illustrate the contradictions and complexities within the concepts of nature.

Alabama Fields by Helene Schmitz
Alabama Fields by Helene Schmitz

With her “Kudzu Project” the Swedish photographer has documented such a so-called invasive plant in its new habitat in the United States. She spent the summer of 2012 traveling through the American south with her assistant Felix Bridell to capture the plant.

Georgian Backyard by Helene Schmitz
Georgian Backyard by Helene Schmitz

The natural circulation area of the Kudzu extends over Asia until North Australia. In the late 19th century Kudzu was introduced to the U. S. where it established itself as an ornamental and as a crop plant. But in the early 20th century botanists raised concerns regarding the invasiveness of the species. Schmitz was interested in the idea that a plant could be ‘invasive’ which is usually a term used to describe an act of war. Nowadays it is considered as one of the worst invasive species in the world.

Southern Landscape by Helene Schmitz
Southern Landscape by Helene Schmitz

In Schmitz’ images there are a wonderful, mystical darkness. The viewer experiences a landscape, its history, and its character, almost as a mystical experience of nature. The created wondrous forms in their immense size rise majestically in their new environment. The dark vitality of this invasive plant implies downright a mood of doom.

The Garden by Helene Schmitz
The Garden by Helene Schmitz

The exhibition at Willas Contemporary in Oslo runs through 11 June.

Mood of Doom in Oslo, written by Tor Kjolberg