The Political Life of Plants 1

2021. Supported by Gropius Bau and Schering Stiftung.

 
The Political Life of Plants 1, 2021. 4K, black and white, colour, 2 channel sound, 31 min.
The Political Life of Plants 1, 2021. 4K, black and white, colour, 2 channel sound, 31 min.
The Political Life of Plants 1, 2021. 4K, black and white, colour, 2 channel sound, 31 min.
The Political Life of Plants 1, 2021. 4K, black and white, colour, 2 channel sound, 31 min.
The Political Life of Plants 1, 2021. 4K, black and white, colour, 2 channel sound, 31 min.
The Political Life of Plants 1, 2021. 4K, black and white, colour, 2 channel sound, 31 min.
The Political Life of Plants 1, 2021. 4K, black and white, colour, 2 channel sound, 31 min.
The Political Life of Plants 1, 2021. 4K, black and white, colour, 2 channel sound, 31 min.
Installation view, Gropius Bau, Berlin, 2021.

Zheng Bo focuses on the molecular level of plant life, considering how they build communities and practice politics with their bodies. In the forest, trees work with fungi for nutrition and insects for pollination. Zheng Bo’s new film is a portrait of Grumsin, an ancient beech forest in Brandenburg and one of Germany’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.

He speculates about the forest’s political life by experimenting with image and sound, and is influenced by the style of early 20th century Soviet cinema. Zheng Bo’s film is also underpinned by his conversations with the leading ecologists and biologists in Berlin. They include Roosa Laitinen, who investigates plant adaptation, and Matthias Rillig, specialising in biodiversity and soil ecology. This scientific aspect is met with close-ups of branches, reminiscent of Zheng Bo’s drawings, and images of the forest’s canopy and lakes. Zheng Bo sees the forest as a queer assembly where the trees take part in a congress of their own unique more-than-human form. He believes that “if we really want to move into a future where humans are not the centre of the world, we need to treat other forms of life and materiality with full respect, biologically, intellectually and politically.” (text by Gropius Bau)

Ecosensibility: Zheng Bo
Cinematography: Raban Jakob Friedrich
Sound recording: Joscha Eickel
Editor: David Roeglin
Sound design and music: Filip Caranica & Contemporary Sound