JENNY YURSHANSKY                                                                  






This project investigates the distinction between native versus invasive species as determined by Artsdatabanken (The Species Database), a Norwegian scientific organization. In 2012 Artsdatabanken published an updated edition of the Black List. This list names nearly 2,500 species of flora and fauna as invasive in Norway and categorizes their threat levels from Very High to Unknown. The cultural bias that plays into the scientific criteria and discourse around how, why, and by whom these plants are considered to be invasive are the project’s focus.

Semantically the use of such terms as invasive and native are loaded. The direct correlation between human population shifts that occur at politically determined borders, rather than those determined by biomes, and the introduction vectors of these species is an area that warrants illumination. The reasons for identifying alien species vary from their being unwelcome because of their competitiveness with native flora and fauna or those cultivated for commercial or aesthetic purposes.

I collected, studied, and researched the 168 plants that are described as invasive in northern Norway. In the summer of 2012 I was artist-in-residence on a forestry farm and by limiting my search to the bounds of the property, I found a total of 62 plants that were on the Black List.

To catalogue these plants I created a handmade book in the style of a botanical herbarium.  Each invasive plant is a precisely hand-cut silhouette portrait. These cutouts function as caricatures of each plant’s botanical characteristics. This turns the herbarium into an index that is simultaneously highly local and totally foreign.  Along with each silhouette is a description of the plant's Latin, Norwegian, and English names, their arrival date in Norway and their official place of origin. It is no accident that the dates of arrival are primarily in the 19th century, a period of increasing immigration and trade, the result of which meant that these plants arrived in Norway via human vectors. Many of these plants are now thought to be culturally Norwegian because of their common place in traditional cuisine, flower beds, kitchen gardens, and the overwhelmingly coniferous landscape. It is disturbing to a previously unquestioned sense of Norwegian-ness associated with many of the plants, that they are indeed Blacklisted.


Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory (Herbarium)




Handmade book made of various paper types containing 62 hand-cut silhouettes


10 3/16” x 13” x 1 3/16"

Works            CV             Current            About