Aloe vera: Research ______Exhibition

Aloevera Upside Down – Monitoring Station


Botanical name: ALOE VERA (True Aloe)

Russian popular name: Centenarian Plant


Aloe Vera is a medicinal plant in the Lily (Liliaceae) family. It blossoms in the local warm climate at least once a year. I grow in my studio at the heart of the old central bus station Aloe Vera plants that have been excluded from houses and yards and cast outside the fences. Not many cultivate it here (perhaps because of its look). InRussia, in the cold climate, it blossoms once every 100 years (thus its nickname Stoletnik). Immigrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States (formerly theUSSR) like the plant because of its attributed healing properties, and they wait long for its blossom. They are also surprised to discover that in the country’s warmth and light it blooms in yellow and orange.

I research its behavior, its properties as a cultural signifier. When the Aloe Vera is held disconnected from the soil and is hung from the basis of its stalk it turns upside down, its leaves turn downward, and it keeps on growing – contrary to the root’s gravitational power. For many years they have been living in my studio. Here, in Loveat café, at its special location facing the towers’ cross-section, the Aloe Vera is placed as if in a site of a monitoring station with a specific micro-climate. It presents itself beyond the glass, upside down, allowing a close examination of its details and botanical constituents. In contrast to other plants its leaves darken and blacken in the sun, turning in shadow to pale green. In this way the Aloe Vera questions the notions of inversion and location, of points of view, of criteria and cultural perceptions of domestication and exclusion.