Herbs: Plants that Perform

April 9, 2014

Reading With My Whole Body: An Interview with Essi Kausalainen, Source: http://www.badatsports.com


Herbs are plants that signify hope, remedies, and vitality. They are essential ingredients of folklore, traditional cures, and social customs that integrate land with culture. Within Ireland, there are many performative actions that involve herbs as ways to activate growth and soil fertility. Plants bring people together, and evoke eccentric actions as a way of bringing nature closer to relieving ailments of the human condition.

Bringing herbs to people, urban places and everyday life in general, is a way to become linked to a legacy of remedies that evoke social history and belief systems. Culture, cures and land are integrated with one another. Landscape is the scene of life, and herbs can grow within the neglected and abandoned places that we inhabit. Within the edges of urban and rural spaces herbs find life.

Finnish artist Essi Kausalainen uses plants in her arts for health based performances, to enrich physical associations to the natural world.

The basis of Essi’s artistic practice is the human body with its senses, instincts and thoughts. She views the world as an organism – as a constant movement of the different forms and ways of being. In her art she translates observations of the living into a poetic language of images, gestures and spaces (Fix 13, Tenth Annual Live Art Biennial, Catalyst Art Gallery, Belfast)

The location of Essi’s connection to plants is visible, situated on streets and in some cases hospitals. She brings ecology with her, and performs it physically, reminding us of how plants are our allies, our anecdote to the complex predicaments of life.


Essi Kausalainen has created her work for ANTI Festival during a one-month residency in Kuopio. The work consists of two parts: Travelling Garden (May) and Greenhouse (September). In May, Kausalainen walked around the city with her garden and asked people to draw plants for her imaginary garden. Every participant was given seeds to be grown for the project. In September, Kausalainen returns to Kuopio to see what has grown from the seeds: Greenhouse is a performance-installation build from the drawings and the plants.

“In my work I explore the human body/being in relation to the space that surrounds it. I’m interested in the physical experience of being (body as a space, body as an action, body as an identity). The pieces are often based on a slow process of making (of becoming). They built a poetic language of images, gestures and spaces – a language that invites the audience into a gentle dialogue. The medium of my work varies from performance and installation to drawing and video.”








The work of Essi Kausalainen is presented with the Support of the Alfred Kordelin foundation.


Comments are closed.