Island for Weeds, 2003
Starling’s installation examines the categories of “native” and “invasive” plant species. The weed in his installation is a rhododendron, a plant imported to Scotland from Spain in the eighteenth century. After a long history in Scotland, the plant is now considered an invasive species and is often removed from the environment.
“Starling wanted to take the rhododendron….back to its native Spain…. With his remigration project, Starling raises questions. What makes a species a weed? How (un)natural is it that this rhododendron feels so safe at home in Scotland? Why does this plant belong to Spain but is seen as an alien, an immigrant, in Scotland? How many generations does it take before you can call a species a native species?”1 Often a plant is labeled “invasive” when it no longer meets our needs — many non-native plants that fill our plates or decorate our gardens are rarely described as “invasive” species.
See the Yes Naturally exhibit.
1Yes, Naturally: How Art Saves the World, (Rotterdam, NL: Nai010, 2013), 63.