Plants of the Soul

Plant fantasies between symbolism and outsider art – An interdisciplinary and inclusive cooperation project

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Project description

Plants are often used as metaphors for sensuality, sexuality and love, transcendence, desire, purity and home. There is still ongoing debate as to whether plants have souls and whether it’s possible to communicate with them. In the outsider art genre, i.e. works created outside the conventional art scene and which frequently explore extraordinary psychological experiences, one can find a broad spectrum of plant images – from sentient plants to animal-plant hybrids. In classical art genres, such as symbolism and surrealism, there are also numerous examples of plants used as symbols and projections of the psyche.

The project “Plants of the Soul” examines various “plant fantasies” between symbolism and outsider art. Several cultural institutions in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region are now preparing exhibitions, dance and theatre performances on this subject. The Wilhelm-Hack-Museum (Ludwigshafen) and the Sammlung Prinzhorn (Heidelberg) will examine the historical dimension of the plant motif. With items from their own collections and international loans, they will delineate the parallels between works of symbolism, surrealism and outsider art. The exhibitions will question the differentiation between insider and outsider art and underscore the seamless transitions in art production under very disparate circumstances. The Malwerkstatt / Galerie Alte Turnhalle (Bad Dürkheim) and the Museum Haus Cajeth (Heidelberg) will shed light on the importance of plants in contemporary works of Outsider Art. zeitraumexit (Mannheim) will present inclusive performance productions with German, Italian and Austrian partners in which plants and plant species serve as role models. With an education programme comprised of dialogical tours and workshops, the project hopes to appeal to a broad segment of the public and encourage participation. The programme includes an international conference which aims to identify and localise current works of outsider art.

Artistic directors: Thomas Röske, Wolfgang Sautermeister, René Zechlin
Artists: Irene und Christine Hohenbüchler (AT), Luca Santiago Mora, Atelier dell’Errore (IT), Dorothea Rust (CH), Marc Steene (GB), Theater Thikwa Berlin, Doris Uhlich (AT)
Curators: Astrid Ihle, Julia Nebenführ, Ingrid von Beyme, Charlotte Arens, Gabriele Oßwald
Curatorial Assistant: Nora Jaeger

Further information

Performances / theatre / dance

zeitraumexit Mannheim, Heidelberg, Bad Dürkheim, Ludwigshafen:
April – July 2019


  • 31 March, 2019 to 4 August, 2019: Exhibition

    Galerie Alte Turnhalle, Bad Dürkheim

  • 31 March, 2019 to 4 August, 2019: Exhibition

    Sammlung Prinzhorn, Museum Haus Cajeth, Heidelberg

  • 31 March, 2019 to 4 August, 2019: Exhibition

    Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen



Berliner Str. 23
67059 Ludwigshafen am Rhein (external link, opens in a new window)