Mariela Limerutti Visual Artist, Argentina.

Suburban Surprise
Holland 2014

This project was one of a total of six projects selected for the year programme 2013, titled Expanding Reality, and was selected from a total of 150 proposals sent in from all over the world in response to the open call 2013 in HMK* [Hotel MariaKapel].

"My mother's house had a beautiful and large garden with many autochthonous plants. Faced with the sudden death of my mother, this garden also started to die since nobody, despite efforts, could take care of her plants as she had done. Because of there are people with special sensitivity for this task, who can engage in vital contact with vegetation, this proposal was developed from an particular artistic poetic...".

The personal project was developed during the months of June and July in the city of Enkhuizen, Holland, for which cacti and succulents were transported from this garden in San Juan, Argentina. Twelve plants of different species traveled. Once there, residents were searched to assume the responsibility for committing one of those plants, not only to look after them but also to give them a place to live within their houses. The private space of every home in Enkhuizen was the real place with which plants (that came from a single garden) had to interact and learn to live with stories of different worlds; and where they are still developing survival skills. In addition, the proposal is related to concepts such as plant, life, death, travel, time, home, different space, adaptation, survival and closes to the concept of "the Other" (addressed by the anthropologist Marc Augé but developed by Psychology too) that not only shines through in the place of origin of species, but also in plants themselves, their dispossession, and the person who took care of them and who is not anymore.

Finding adoptive parents was defined during the residency to finish in a public event where the plants were delivered. Besides, there was exhibited the photographic record of the whole process of preparation, travel and origin place; certifications; travel permitions and the adoption contracts signed by every people who adopted one of the plants, by the event organizers and the artist. The project was covered by the Noord - Hollands Dagblad newspaper.

This art project should be exposed to phytosanitary rules of different countries. In Argentina, first SENASA (National Health Service and Food Quality) intervened, doing tests that correspond to pests which are absent in Argentina, to issue the official phytosanitary certificate. Then, the Secretariat of Environment, Wildlife Management, also issued other certificates confirming that plants were not endangered species. And finally, the office Control of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES Management Authority of Argentina, National Environmental and Biodiversity Conservation Planning in Buenos Aires, issued the final certification to allow plants to travel outside the country.

Meanwhile, I got in contact with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and through them with the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) in the Netherlands in order to corroborate and allow the admission into the country and Europe. From the Health & Consumers Directorate-General, European Commission, I was reported on the Directive 2000/29/EC that regulates the ingress of plant species to European Union, and also the Directive 2008-61-C on harmful species. They contacted themselves the authorities of Plant Protection Ezeiza International Airport to make them aware of my intention. Thus, from Ezeiza someone contacted me to corroborate what this art project was about, all necessary certifications and conditions of travelling for plants without soil in sterile medium conservation; in addition to know about the date, day and time of travel.

*HMK {Hotel MariaKapel} HMK is an artist-run residency and project space in Hoorn, a 16th century town by the IJsselmeer, just 40 km north of Amsterdam. In the old center of the town, in a mediaeval orphanage with adjacent inner garden and Maria Chapel, HMK receives artists from all over the world. The programme involves artists working in a wide range of media, focusing on installation and context based work, video/film and performance art. Projects are developed both in public space and in the chapel's exhibition space.