Vanja Smiljanić, Plant Rant: Mea Culpa on Chlorophyll Sling

19 October – 30 November 2019

Opening: Friday 18 October 2019, 19:00 (with a per­for­mance by Judith Sönnicken at 19.30)

Vanja Smilianić’s site-specific installation for Gemeinde Köln is a new chapter of her poetic study on cyclical temporalities. Subjecting materials – carpet, vinyl, moving images, sound, gloves– to painterly cuts, Smilianić not only offers alternatives to the linear, traditional progress of time we still long to obey; she also evokes some of its violence through reclaiming practices. Trauma and acknowledgment unleash the greener side of empowerment, in ways of a garden, where even the most innocent plant could be a remedy or a poison, depending on its dosage and combination. Establishing relationships with the past through the memory of oppressed agents create alliances. The different species in Smilianić’s installation propose a view on what bodies can do and what they can be made to do, weaving together multiple herstories of herbalism and activism.

“Plant Rant: Mea Culpa on Chlorophyll Sling” gathers together three works composed of different elements: a labyrinth, a soft column, a video installation, a sculptural arrangement, and a wall tapestry. The labyrinth’s looping path runs through the exhibition space, offering the visitors a step-by-step insight into multiple roles of women and plants. On the column, the repetition of motifs as a sequence of movements might evoke the record of stories carved in stone. However, they provide a more fluid approach to it through the mobile nature of textile patterns.


Psycho drama (Urbadfeminist). Single channel video (color, sound), 13:45 min; video interlude, 10:00 min; carpet; labyrinth.
Mandragora (first encounter). Carpet, wood, 140 x 210 cm.
Nettle, Sage, Valeriana, Rose, 16.09.2019. Carpet, glove, fake nail, monitor arm, 6 panels ≈ 50 x 250 cm each.

Curated by Agustina Andreoletti


Vanja Smiljanić, *1986 in Belgrade, is a visual and performance artist. After studying visual arts at the Faculdade de Belas Artes Lisboa, Universidade de Lisboa (PT), an M.A. in artistic research at the Dutch Art Institute, Arnhem (NL) and Advanced Performance and Scenography Studies in Brussels (BE), she completed her media art studies at the Kunsthochschule für Medien in Cologne in 2018. She is interested in speculative narratives, feminist science fiction, and a new materialism that connects the physical with the beyond. Since 2010 she has been dealing with the new religious UFO movement “Cosmic People”. After many unsuccessful attempts, Smiljanić finally became a member in 2013 and today describes herself as the “Senior Architect” of the “Library of Light” of the “Cosmic People”, i.e. the archive of the organization, whose contents she begins to change ‘from within’. In lecture performances, she reports on this (subversive) activity – as storyteller and oracle. Vanja Smiljanić reflects from an ambivalent inside on her subject – and lets an interested public participate in her artistic research work in novel live formats.