Photo: Kristoffer Juel Poulsen
Botanizing on the Asphalt
Artists’ book (2015)
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 collected on walks in Long Island City, Copenhagen, and Riga take on an ethereal, almost ghostly appearance. A shoe, a coffee cup, a feather, a leaf.
The project takes as its outset 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 used cyanotypes to catalogue British algae. 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, venturing in 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 documenting a city through its trash by use of cyanotype.
The book is produced alongside the installation series Botanizing on the Asphalt.