Heracleum Sosnowsky, or popularly called “Stalin’s revenge”, is an ideal metaphor for ideological intoxication, because once the stem is cut down, overnight it grows with even more persistence. This characterizes not only the roots of an ideology but in this particular case also a historical premise, laid somewhere on a subconscious level of the mind, connected to Stalin’s epoch, who initiated the spread of this poisonous plant.
The first part consisted of a performance, where the nonsensical act of cutting down the Heracleum was numerously repeated. This cutting down ironizes the attempt to eradicate memory, to liquidate traumatic experiences by means of psychological defense mechanisms. Dislodging the part of the memory that is unpleasant, an almost disgusting component of past and contemporaneity is another practice of memory suppression.
For the first show in Vienna, I smuggled the plant from Ukraine to the EU, where under new conditions and rules it could spread its roots and grow as a part of an exposition on forbidden territory. Even though the smuggling of the plant across the border, hidden in a huge bouquet behind a palm leaf, was successful, the seven hours-long waits at the border or perhaps the transition into the strangely restricted European Union proved too much for the plant, turning it into one dead dried piece. My apparent frustration and numerous failed attempts to fertilize and bring it back to life led me to the acceptance of the fact that the plant had died, as an integral part of the working process.
The resulting sculpture is an outcome of all these previous interventions and the final stage of the project. It repeats the pattern of the blisters, one gets after contact with the leaves or the stem of Heracleum. Each blister contains a tea, cooked out of the dead leaf of the smuggled plant. The sculpture is a conservation of memory. The bubbles maintain a totalitarian regime, causing burns, a traumatic experience that despite the natural reflex to suppress it, people could still ponder.
In the show I eradicated the usage of a symbolical language of the objects, rather working with the symbols containing meaning internally.