Natural Selection


Ogle Gallery, Portland, OR
September 4 - November 1, 2008

Velvet da Vinci Gallery
San Francisco, CA
January 2009

In the ancient practice of bonsai, humans manipulate plants to create a miniaturized landscape. My bonsai arrangements suggest scenarios where plants have chosen their mates the way humans do–a blend of natural instincts and intellect. Each piece presents a different look at courtship, intimacy, and relationships. Their abilities to defy species and natural law reflects our freedom to cross boundaries such as social norms, race, age, and gender.

Many influences are behind this project, most notably: Darwin’s theories pertaining specifically to plants, modern challenges to evolution theory of natural and sexual selection, erotica and contemporary nonfiction, singles ads, interviews, personal experience, and art history. Natural Selection also continues my ongoing exploration of the ways that humans attempt to control nature, and in turn, nature finds a way to adapt or reassert itself, such as grass that grows in the cracks of a sidewalk or mildew that forms on an uninsulated wall behind a couch.

This show is an installation with an installation. The greenhouse itself nestles into the gallery space and the plants take their places on the shelves within that structure. Several highly adaptive plants have taken root on the building itself. These plants are the only ones without their own scientific classification, having freshly embarked on their own courtship rituals.

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© 2020 by Hilary Pfeifer. 

Portland, Oregon, USA