Morphologue, 2023

A Morphologue, 2023

We tend to see the human in the nonhuman; Anthropomorphism. This is potentially dangerous but also ‘natural’. The leaves move as they decay. A heartbeat, breathing, in bed, moving. Tenderness, vulnerability. There’s livingness that emerges through the dying. For weeks I’ve been collecting the leaves… Now the leaves are talking to me. Am I really that far gone? A tension between a truthful observation of the leaves and an imposition of motion and emotion.

The video is part of installation Tree Treasures in the exhibition Leaves Left by art collective ROEM Leiden in collaboration with Days of ArtScience and Nacht van Ontdekkingen (Night of Discoveries) 2023.

Photos by Joosje Bosch

Tree Treasures, 2023 - Exhibition at Hortus Botanicus Leiden for Days of ArtScience & Nacht van Ontdekkingen

Tree Treasures, 2023
Light, video- en audio-installation en logbook. 

Tree Treasures is a light, video and audio installation that condenses several weeks of artistic research carried out in Leiden’s Hortus Botanicus. During these weeks, Karlas visited the Hortus every day, carefully observing, photographing, and collecting fallen leaves. They also kept a hybrid logbook, combining research notes, diary entries, and plant samples.

Fallen leaves typically receive little attention. But, for Karlas, the daily act of gathering leaves gradually took on the excitement of a treasure hunt. Like precious stones, the colours – golden yellows, ruby reds – and unusual forms of particular leaves stood out against an otherwise uniform sea of green.

Back in the studio, the leaves Karlas had collected continued to slowly alter, curling as they dried, and changing colour. Could these gestures be considered a form of non-verbal communication? Utilising time-lapse photography techniques, by pasting together sequences of still images Karlas was able to condense and speed up these gestures, making them intelligible.

With Tree Treasures, Karlas has taken on the role of translator, attempting to give the plants and trees of the Hortus a voice.

Een Morfoloog, 2023 - videowerk en onderdeel van installatie 'Tree Treasures' in Hortus Botanicus Leiden

Leaves Left
For this edition of Night of Discoveries and Days of ArtScience, Karl Karlas, Charlotte de Beus, Adri Peralta, Maaike van Everdingen and Sam Wilson Fletcher (all members of the Leiden-based art collective ROEM) have created a series of artworks—including installations, poetry, performance, film and audio—that draw on extensive research carried out by each artist in collaboration with Leiden’s Hortus Botanicus. Exploring themes of loss, displacement, death and renewal, these artworks elevate the ordinary—and distort it. We speak, and ecosystem memory is erased; dead leaves are seen to dance and breathe as they decay; beneath a green canopy, we feel at home—as thorns emerge from pores, and leaf-buds lift our fingernails… The framework of the glasshouse is exposed: with each of these artworks, we are reminded that nature is not ‘over there’.

Participating artist: Adri Peralta, Karl Karlas, Charlotte de Beus, Maaike van Everdingen en Sam Wilson Fletcher 

12 – 17 September 2023
Hortus Botanicus Leiden
Daily from 9:00 – 18:00

Een Morfoloog, 2023 - Still uit videowerk