Botanizing on the Asphalt - Nanna Debois Buhl Botanizing on the Asphalt - Nanna Debois Buhl Botanizing on the Asphalt - Nanna Debois Buhl Botanizing on the Asphalt - Nanna Debois Buhl Botanizing on the Asphalt - Nanna Debois Buhl
Photo: Kristoffer Juel Poulsen

Botanizing on the Asphalt

Artists’ book (2015)
English text
Hardcover, 128 pages, 31×22 cm
Edition: 325 copies
Text: Nanna Debois Buhl & Jen Kennedy
Design, bookbinding, publishing: Officin
Available through Officin, at Motto, Kunsthal Charlottenborg,
Copenhagen and Printed Matter, New York

Botanizing the Asphalt is a hand bound limited-edition artists’ book that reproduces 60 full page cyanotypes—an early camera-less photographic technique—in which discarded objects take on an ethereal, almost ghostly appearance. The objects have been collected on walks in Long Island City, Copenhagen, and Riga. A shoe, a coffee cup, a feather, a leaf.

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 who catalogued British algae in her publication Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. 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 into new directions. In the book’s letter exchange between Nanna Debois Buhl and art historian Jen Kennedy they consider the life of objects, the porousness of the skin, and the meaning of mapping a city through trash by use of cyanotype.

The book is produced alongside the installation series Botanizing on the Asphalt.