- In Short
- Installation art
EATING WITH A CARNIVOROUS PLANT
Until well into the 19th century, carnivorous plants did not exist. Humans simply could not accept that plants were also hunters and could consume meat. This belief blinded us to the obvious signs that this was indeed happening. After all, observation is usually not a neutral activity but often primarily the projection of an expectation.
When an insect or small mammal became entangled in sticky tentacles or drowned in a calyx full of digestive juices it was considered an accident or the result of a defense mechanism of the plant. Ultimately, it was Charles Darwin who, through careful observation, came to the conclusion that the eating of meat by plants was an evolutionary adaptation to specific environmental factors. In his 1875 book Insectivorous plants, he describes how plants catch and kill insects, and the origin of the specialized organs that carnivorous species have developed. Carnivorous plants have evolved at least seven times, in different places on Earth, independently of each other. The conditions are often similar: There must be plenty of sunlight and enough water present but the carnivorous behavior is primarily an adaptation to a very food-poor environment. Only when nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen are lacking does it seem to make sense for plants to indulge in eating meat. In the popular literature of the time, a lively genre of what you might call carnivori porn emerged in which the relatively modest little plants were blown up into grotesque human-devouring monsters. In reality, their evolution moved in an entirely different direction. A number of carnivorous plants became vegetarian again after a period of eating meat to survive. Sometimes this happens only after the plant’s adolescence. Apparently, the young plants need something more than the adults. In other cases, through cooperation with other species, an alternative food source was found such as the droppings of insects, mice and bats. Also, some carnivores switched to consuming algae, pollen, leaves and other plant material. Meat eating in these cases seems to have been a temporary adaptation until other nutrients became available. In a nutrient-rich climate, plants rarely eat meat.
The wondrous and inspiring journey of the vegetarian carnivorous plant inspired the creation of an intimate and cross-species meal: Nephenthes alata (Monkeyjar) & Homo sapiens (Man) consume vegetable soup together from the cup of the formerly carnivorous plant.
text Arne Hendriks
The artist is present in the restaurant:
Saturday 10th September 14 -17
Sunday 18th September 14 – 17 (also lecture Arne Hendriks at 14.30 in the Noordertuin)
Sunday 25th September 14 – 17
Saturday 1 October 14 – 17