Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
Preparatory sketches, 2020
Courtesy the Artist
Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg in conversation with Rebecca Lewin, January 2021
The Archaeological Park of Pompeii and London’s Serpentine Galleries have teamed up in the context of Pompeii’s first contemporary art programme, Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters, inviting three artists involved in the Serpentine’s Back to Earth project to share insights from their ongoing research which intersects with questions connected to archaeology, archaeobotany and archaeozoology.
For the second release, artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is discussing her upcoming work on and for pollinators with Serpentine’s Curator of Exhibitions and Design, Rebecca Lewin. Developed in response to the Eden Project, Cornwall’s three-year project, Create a Buzz, which focuses on telling the story of UK’s native pollinators, Ginsberg’s work will also feature as part of the Serpentine’s Back to Earth project in Autumn 2021. As part of Eden’s commission, Ginsberg has developed a special algorithm that optimises garden designs – including plant species and layout – for pollinators rather than humans. This will result in a new outdoor garden commission on site in Cornwall – whose preparatory sketches are featured here –, as well as a new website through which audiences will be able to develop their own garden design using the same algorithm. In this conversation, Ginsberg and Lewin discuss the technical aspects of the projects as well as the practice of designing for more-than-human species. In the artist’s own words,” I want to make an artwork for pollinators, not about them. We’re creating a digital artwork made from living plants, exploring how the audience of an artwork can be more-than-human, and asking how art can be useful in the ecological crisis,” – an approach that very much resonates with Pompeii Commitment’s investigation into the possible meanings of Pompeii’s legacy as a site of catastrophe and regeneration at once. As part of the Serpentine’s Back to Earth project, the Serpentine will work with Eden Project and with Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg to investigate the possibility of a London garden optimised for pollinators, and to disseminate the website to its audiences and networks, with the aim of multiplying the number of pollinator-optimised gardens worldwide. LP-SB
Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg’s pollinator commission for the Eden Project is funded by the Garfield Weston Foundation, with additional partners Gaia Art Foundation and collaborators Google Arts & Culture.
Back to Earth is curated and produced by Rebecca Lewin, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jo Paton, Lucia Pietroiusti, Holly Shuttleworth and Kostas Stasinopoulos.
With heartfelt thanks to Nicoletta Fiorucci Russo and Fiorucci Art Trust.
Home page image: Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Preparatory sketch, 2020. Courtesy the Artist
Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg (London, 1982) is an artist examining our fraught relationships with nature and technology. Ginsberg’s work explores subjects as diverse as artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, conservation, and evolution, as she investigates the human impulse to “better” the world. She spent over ten years experimentally engaging with the field of synthetic biology. Lead author of Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature (MIT Press, 2014), in 2017 she completed her PhD, Better, at the Royal College of Art, London, interrogating how powerful dreams of “better” futures shape the present. Ginsberg won the World Technology Award for design in 2011, the London Design Medal for Emerging Talent 2012, and the Dezeen Changemaker Award 2019. Twice nominated for Designs of the Year (2011, 2015), her work has been described as “romantic, dangerous… and everything else that inspires us to change and question the world”. She has exhibited at MoMA New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, the National Museum of China, Beijing, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Royal Academy, London, and her first solo show was at Vitra Design Museum, Basel, in 2019. Her work is in permanent collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, and ZKM Karlsruhe.