The Fresh Air Collection is an exhibition of artist owned houseplants and artworks featuring houseplants. It has been assembled as a response to the often-made observation that there are too many houseplants appearing in contemporary art shows of late.
With a sense of satire the exhibition explores this phenomena – essentially a problem of commonality or cliché in art. More diligently, it also provides an opportunity to consider the surprising role the houseplant has played in the display economies of both modern and contemporary art. From their existence as ‘dressing’ for discreet museum displays of AbEx or geometric modernism during the 40s and 50s, to their incorporation into exemplary works of early installation art by luminaries such as Hans Haacke, Nam June Paik and Marcel Broodthaers – to name just three examples.
The Collection is also about the houseplant, in and of itself. For whether we take it simply as something that looks nice, a cure for depression or a musical instrument (John Cage’s Child of Tree (1975), a composition for amplified cacti, is included in the Collection), the houseplant is an excellent parable for the ever increasing need to construct and synthesise ‘nature’; to avail ourselves of it – however problematic this necessity might in essence be.