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Palm Tree Studies in South Tyrol and Beyond

Artists’ book (2016)
English text
, 48 pages, 34×24 cm
Edition: 400 copies
Text: Nanna Debois Buhl in conversation with Otto Hüber, Joanna Banham, and Susanne Stacher
Design: Anni’s
Published by Humboldt Books
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A peculiar phenomenon of the Northern Italian city Merano is its large population of palm trees. The majority of the Merano palm trees belong to the species Trachycarpus fortunei, which was brought to Europe from East Asia in the 1830s. The first palms were planted in the city around 1880 as Merano was transforming into a health resort and a tourist destination. With her artists’ book Palm Tree Studies in South Tyrol and Beyond, Nanna Debois Buhl seeks to trace the palm trees’ botanical trajectories and symbolic dimensions.

The publication presents Buhl’s research through a collection of materials including conversations with the Merano-based botanist Otto Huber, the design scholar specialized in 19th century wallpapers Joanna Banham, and the architect Susanne Stacher specialized in alpine architecture, as well as photos and photograms by the artist, old postcards and touristic posters of Merano, historical and scientific images of palm trees. Through this manifold material, the publication unfolds the “cultural biography” of the palm tree in Merano and elaborates on the incorporation of this exotic element in 19th century design and garden culture in the region and on a larger scale, also creating a link to utopian alpine architecture and its relation to landscape.

The book is produced alongside the public art work Palm Tree Studies in South Tyrol and Beyond on the occasion of the exhibition Art & Nature 2016 Walking with Senses.