The Floral Kombat FINISH THEM! Dinner Party

Will Owen concludes his time based plant piece with a three course dinner using the plants he grew in the gallery at Little Berlin.

The Floral Kombat FINISH THEM! Dinner Party
Little Berlin, 2430 Coral Street
November 22 at 8:00PM
$3 suggested donation
littleberlin.org/

Artist: Will Owen
Curated by Maddie Hewitt

For the exhibit Hard To Please, curated by Maddie Hewitt at Little Berlin, New York artist Will Owen has brought kudzu vines back to Philadelphia illegally sent through USPS from a rural town in the Smokey Mountains. Kudzu and the other invasive plants are on the “orange team” and the more traditionally cultivated plants are on the “purple team.”

Floral Kombat is a small scale experiment demonstrating how invasive plant species overrun other plants in their immediate vicinity if left unattended. This time based installation includes invasive plants--kudzu and peppermint--that grow alongside other edible, more constrained plants in a large vitrine planter. Throughout the duration of Little Berlin’s exhibit, Hard To Please, the plant growth in the gallery represents the changing landscapes in America, and how it relates to a slow competition for life.

Owen grew up in rural Western North Carolina among the Smoky Mountains. The area is a temperate rainforest diverse with deciduous and coniferous vegetation. Over the last several decades large swaths of the indigenous landscape have become engulfed by kudzu; a perennial vine native to Asia. Kudzu is venerated in Japan where it’s root is dried and powdered and used as a thickener. There are places in Haywood County, North Carolina and across the southern states of America that are now enveloped by kudzu, where the vines are known to grow up to a foot per day in mid-summer.

Kudzu was introduced to the United States as an ornamental bush and an effortless and efficient shade producer at the Philadelphia Continental Exposition in 1876. In the 1930s and ‘40s, the vine was rebranded as a way for farmers to stop soil erosion. Southern farmers were given about eight dollars an hour to sow topsoil with the invasive vine. The cultivation covered over one million acres of kudzu.(1)

Will Owen is an artist working primarily with design, interactive media, sound, and food. Originally from western North Carolina and currently based in a few city centers of the American northeast, Will is interested in the social intersections of the organic & synthetic, memory & perceived reality, and Fozzie Bear & Miss Piggy. Will is currently an artist in resident at Flux Factory in Queens, New York. Recently, Will had an installation at the original site of the Black Mountain College and was included in a 2014 Harvard peer-reviewed study of the “most memorable data visualizations” regarding his design work for the international medical humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders.

1.) Kudzu: The Vine that Ate the South; PorterBriggs.comhttp://porterbriggs.com/the-vine-that-ate-the-south/