My name is Fejka
Gothenburg Botanical Garden. Sweden. 2019-Ongoing
Material for installation: artificial potted orchid from Ikea.
Activist roll material: flyer, stickers, Instagram and Facebook account @freefejka, ‘Fejka’s News’ fanzine (in preparation).
In 2017 I was for the first time invited to a group exhibition in the gallery space that the Botanical Garden in Gothenburg has in its greenhouse. One of the most important conditions that we were told when exhibiting in such a special space is that you are not allowed to bring your own plant for any artwork since they can be potentially harmful for the greenhouse plants.
A greenhouse is a constructed collection whose structures, bureaucracy, rules and characteristics are not so far from any other social community. There is, as well, a hierarchy and an authority who decides who can be part of the collection or not. Who is welcome or not.
What kind of plant can be accepted in a botanical garden? What are the conditions to be included in a community? Who are the excluded and why? When asking myself about these questions, I could definitely relate to my experience as an immigrant in Sweden and all the bureaucracy I’m going through to be part of this country.
In 2017 I managed to bring my own plant as a material for an art work after making sure that it wouldn’t infect any other plant and that it was safe and clean. How? By suffocating it in a vacuum plastic bag. The project ‘Transfer’ was accepted by the organization and exhibited even though it meant to kill the plant.
This time, and with the experience I had in 2017, I wanted to explore further the ideas of inclusion, identity and belonging connected to power authorities. In My name is Fejka project description I decided to present Fejka as a person. By giving human attributes to the plastic potted plant I wanted to strengthen the parallelism between illegal plant and illegal immigrant.
I hid an artificial potted orchid in the greenhouse, in the orchid collection. Fejka is the name of the artificial plants series in Ikea. Fejka’s origin name in Swedish comes from the English word Fake. In My Name is Fejka I wanted to strengthen the metaphor between the greenhouse collection and other kinds of authorities that establish who is welcome or not to a specific community.
I installed the artificial plant on a Monday and, on Wednesday (2 days before the opening) it wasn’t there anymore. I assumed that someone considered that Fejka didn’t belong to the orchid collection and felt entitled to remove it. Instead of talking with the greenhouse manager and asking for my missing artwork, I decided to adopt an activist roll and start a campaign to find Fejka.