Dark Botany: The Herbarium Tales

edited by Prudence Gibson, Sigi Jöttkandt, Marie Sierra and Anna Westbrook

  • Published: 2024
  • ISBN: 978-1-78542-136-5
  • PDF ISBN: 978-1-78542-135-8

Dark Botany activates the material and sensorial wonder of plants—their energy, their mysterious allure, their capacities and skills, their independent might. In this Wunderkammer of critical plant studies essays and plant+artworks, the herbarium emerges as a site of multiple materialities and reflexive forms of counter-narrative. Herbaria specimens come alive as assemblages, telling truths about their dark histories and darker contemporary currents, while reflecting on the complexity of texture, movement, memory, compound structure, chemical emissions and rapid evolution of plants and languages. What one discovers is that herbaria are not static: they are as vital, energetic and enigmatic as the plants in their collections—and as diverse.

With contributions by Giovanni Aloi, Matthew Beach, Tamryn Bennett, Edward Colless, Prudence Gibson, Ryan Gordon, Lisa Gorton, Sigi Jöttkandt, Nick Koenig, Verena Kuni, Anna M. Lawrence, Vanessa Lemm, Rebecca Mayo, Aunty Deirdre Martin, Arina Melkozernova, Elaine Miller, Jacob Morris, Anna Perdibon, Anna Madeleine Raupach, Georgina Reid, Heather Rogers, Betty Russ, Erica Seccombe, Marie Sierra, Christina Stadlbauer, Anna-Sophie Springer, Bart Vandeput, Juliann Vitullo, Anna Westbrook and Maya Martin-Westheimer.

Dark Botany: The Herbarium Tales is an OHP Labs Seedbook. More at The Herbarium Tales

Editor Bios

Prudence Gibson is author of The Plant Contract (2028), The Pharmacy of Plants: Janet Laurence (2015) and The Plant Thieves: Secrets of the Herbarium (2023) in addition to trade books, essays and peer-review papers. All her work is informed by theoretical concepts of plant studies, eco-feminism, sustainable art+design and post-human theory. Her work extends to scripting and producing video art, narrative projects and curatorial approaches to plants inspired by new aesthetics and new plant science. She is Lead CI on the 2020-23 ARC Linkage grant Exploring the cultural value of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens Herbarium collection using an environmental aesthetic. In this role she has commissioned artists, poets, sound designers and micro-fiction writers to collaborate with her and with expert scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, in order to revalue their collections.

Sigi Jöttkandt works at the intersection of literature and psychoanalysis. She is Associate Professor of English at the University of New South Wales, and co-founding Director of Open Humanities Press. The author of Acting Beautifully: Henry James and the Ethical Aesthetic (2005), and First Love: A Phenomenology of the One (2010), and The Nabokov Effect (2024) she also edits S Journal of the Circle for Lacanian Ideology Critique. See http://lineofbeauty.org/.

Marie Sierra is the Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music at The University of Melbourne. She has a 30-year career in the arts, specialising in fine art. Her research, which takes the form of non-traditional research outcomes through exhibitions and traditional research outputs such as academic journal articles and book chapters, explores the intersection of art and nature, the agency of art, and ethics in the creative arts. More at http://www.mariesierra.com/.

Anna Westbrook is an interdisciplinary queer feminist storyteller, critic, creative producer, poet, and freelance educator. Her debut, Dark Fires Shall Burn (Scribe; 2016), is a literary crime novel exploring the impact of the real-life unsolved murder of a young girl in Newtown in 1946. She has been shortlisted for The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award and received an Australian Society of Authors’ Mentorship Award. Anna has been anthologized in Herding Kites (Affirm Press) and online in The Disappearing (Red Room Poetry), and published in harlequin creature (USA), The Bastille (France), Voiceworks, Slit, Scum, Cuttings, Pony, and WQ (Australia). More at http://www.annawestbrook.com.au/.