For most people tobacco means smoking, addiction, with deadly results. But tobacco varieties had different uses for thousands of years, and future medical uses are being developed now (non-smoking of course). Plant Stories is a small living garden in a museum that tells the stories of these tobacco varieties from the past, present and future.
Four audio stories can be listened to, using headphones: a historian thinking about the history of tobacco; a Native American musing about his people’s spiritual use of it; a scientist working on modifying its genome to help with COVID-19; and a tobacco farmer planting crops created by researchers for new uses.
The installation invites visitors to think about the future roles of tobacco plants and share their speculative plant ideas with us. By completing the prints with their speculations, visitors can help us to create a collective catalogue of fictional plants. Through this collaborative effort the narrative of the installation evolves throughout the course of the exhibition, paralleling the constant change of its organic content. The soil breathes, the tobacco plants grow, and their stories adapt to their visitors’ visions.
Newcotiana has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreements No. 760331.