Creative Collaboration between Riga and Munich

“Tropical Exotic Network Express”

I produced a new body of paintings called “German Tropical: What would this room be without plants?” as part of the MYCELIA – Munich-Riga collaborative art project.

My collaboration partner is Sandra Strēle and these works form part of our joint installation called “Tropical Exotic Network Express– Tropiski eksotiskā tīkla ekspresis” at PLATFORM München.

%© Penelope Richardson 17 %© Penelope Richardson 17 %© Penelope Richardson 17 %© Penelope Richardson 17 %© Penelope Richardson 17

Ideas behind the work

My work explores the political undercurrent in the everyday lives in Munich. It deals with the ecosystems of power by working with architectural interiors of former National Socialist buildings in Munich that have now been repurposed (detoxified) as cultural institutions.

I use “exotic” plants, playing with the layers of foreign and the going deeper into the problem of othering. I ask if we “Can transpose the word “plant” for “women”? The plants somehow represent an unseen interconnectedness across epochs. Silent witnesses. They are living residue and an exotic cliche in their environments.“

The work of Sandra Strēle consists of a series of eight paintings in addition to an artist book containing short stories related to each of the paintings. Her work also deals with the topic of the “exotic”. She explores the layers by depicting the soviet buildings in different real and fictional exhibition spaces overgrown with the plants that were usually used to decorate the interiors back in Soviet time. The idea to put these buildings in different exhibition halls actualizes the problem of women artists and their pursuit of artistic success within the art world. The problem in regards to artistic success “grows even bigger when a woman – and artist in general – become older. Nowadays it is still some kind of exoticism to be a well-known middle-aged woman whose work gets exhibited in big and powerful exhibition spaces”.

See the ongoing online exhibition here.

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Photos by Florian Goberge