botanizing_5 botanizing_6 Nanna Debois Buhl. Cyanotopier. Nanna Debois Buhl. Cyanotopier. Nanna Debois Buhl. Cyanotopier.
Charlottenborg Kunsthal, Copenhagen. Photo: Torben Eskerod
SculptureCenter, New York. Photo: Jason Mandella

Botanizing on the Asphalt

3 series of cyanotypes (2015)
38×56.5 cm
Long Island City series: 44 cyanotypes
Copenhagen series: 48 cyanotypes
Riga series: 21 cyanotypes
Artists’ book published by Officin

Botanizing on the Asphalt is a series of cyanotype ‘herbariums’ depicting discarded objects collected on walks in Long Island City, Copenhagen, and Riga. Each herbarium captures a moment of the area by studying the life and circulation of its objects discarded in the streets.

The project takes an outset in Walter Benjamin’s description of the urban wanderer as one “who goes botanizing on the asphalt,” and the work of the 19th-century British botanist and photographer Anna Atkins. Using the technique of cyanotype (in which an object is placed directly on light-sensitive paper which is exposed to the sun to produce an image) Anna Atkins made a large cyanotype herbarium of algae in the 1840s. Weaving together Benjamin’s notion, Atkins’ method, and traces from urban space, Botanizing on the Asphalt captures a moment in time before the discarded objects are again scattered, whirling in new directions.

Part of the project is also the artists’ book Botanizing on the Asphalt.