Nanna Debois Buhl
Palm Tree Studies in South Tyrol and Beyond
A peculiar phenomenon of the Northern Italian city Merano is its large population of palm trees. The majority of the Merano palm trees belong to the species Trachycarpus fortunei, which was brought to Europe from East Asia in the 1830s. The first palms were planted in the city around 1880 as Merano was transforming into a health resort and a tourist destination. With her artists’ book Palm Tree Studies in South Tyrol and Beyond, Nanna Debois Buhl seeks to trace the palm trees’ botanical trajectories and symbolic dimensions.
The publication presents Buhl’s research through a collection of materials including conversations with the Merano-based botanist Otto Huber, the design scholar specialized in wallpapers Joanna Banham, and the architect Susanne Stacher specialized in alpine architecture, as well as photos and photograms by the artist, old postcards and touristic posters of Merano, historical and scientific images of palm trees. Through this manifold material, the publication unfolds the “cultural biography” of the palm tree in Merano and elaborates on the incorporation of this exotic element in 19th century design and garden culture in the region and on a larger scale, also creating a link to utopian alpine architecture and its relation to landscape.
Published on the occasion of the public art exhibition Art & Nature 2016 Walking With Senses, Merano Spring Festival, Merano, Italy, March 24 – June 5, 2016 Curated by BAU.
Nanna Debois Buhl is a visual artist who lives and works in Copenhagen and New York. Her practice is a continuous investigation of historical and cultural knowledge through botany, animal life, imagery, and architectural components. She participated in The Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program, New York (2008-09), and received her MFA from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (2006). Her installations and films have been exhibited widely, recently at Pérez Art Museum, FL; SculptureCenter, NY; Art in General, NY; The Studio Museum, Harlem, NY; El Museo del Barrio, NY; Lunds Konsthall, Sweden; Kunsthal Charlottenborg; Kunsthallen Brandts; Museum for Contemporary Art, Roskilde; and Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark.