LAS Art Foundation presents Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg’s Pollinator Pathmaker, a living artwork and participatory initiative. At the core of the project is an algorithm-based tool that designs gardens based on the needs of pollinating insects.
Image above: Digital rendering of Pollinator Pathmaker LAS Edition, 2023 © Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
LAS Art Foundation is pleased to present Pollinator Pathmaker, a living artwork and participatory project conceived by artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg. This impactful initiative in interspecies art uses algorithmic technology to generate planting schemes for gardens, computed to support the greatest diversity of pollinating insects possible. It signals a shift toward the post-anthropocentric thinking necessary to face the current climate and biodiversity crises, and toward the non-human aesthetics and experimental formats that pave the way. Ambitious and future-minded, it is exemplary of how art can act as a driver for change, and offer new perspectives on our shared planet.
Growing in the forecourt of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, the LAS-commissioned garden will be the first edition outside of the UK. LAS has committed to amplifying Pollinator Pathmaker’s impact by undertaking an extensive public campaign, which calls upon local communities, hobby gardeners and activists to get involved in pollinator protection by planting their own version of the artwork – what the artist refers to as DIY Editions – via Ginsberg’s free online tool: www.pollinator.art.
Responding to the alarming decline in pollinator populations in recent decades, Ginsberg has worked with horticulturalists, pollinator experts and an AI scientist to devise an algorithmic tool that designs bespoke gardens for pollinating insects. Supported by the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, the LAS Edition will be customised for Continental Europe, and will feature more than 7,000 plants of 80 different varieties, planted over a 722-square-metre plot.
The Pollinator Pathmaker tool works by selecting a regional Plant Palette – a list of plants specially-curated by the artist – which matches pollinating insects and the plants they forage from with a given plot’s soil type and weather exposure. Ginsberg’s algorithm then uses this data to create a unique planting scheme, optimised to support as many species as possible. Users can play with the algorithm’s settings by experimenting with the number of desired plants and by creating intricate patterns and shapes to suit the foraging styles of different insects. For the first time, users can then generate their planting instructions in English and German, and obtain a certificate of authenticity for their own DIY Edition of up to 15 square metres, which will be illustrated by 3D visualisations of plants painted by Ginsberg. The result will be a growing network of living artworks that create habitats for insects.
Ginsberg aims to make Pollinator Pathmaker the world’s largest climate-positive artwork, of which the LAS Edition and DIY campaign will form a vital part. The project will prompt local communities to consider the necessity of green spaces in cities, and suggest the concrete actions that people can take to benefit their non-human neighbours. On a broader level, it will spark timely conversations about anthropocentrism, environmental protection and agency in the face of the current ecological crisis.
Initiated by LAS, the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin will also host an interactive education programme in spring and summer 2023. Inspiring young people to understand the crucial role that pollinators play in the environment, students at partnering primary schools will be guided through ‘insect hotels’ built for their own school gardens, and invited to create their own DIY Editions of Pollinator Pathmaker via Ginsberg’s online tool. Audiences of all ages will likewise be offered expert-led excursions around Berlin’s urban gardens. As citizen scientists, participants will help collect standardised data that will contribute to insect research.
The LAS Edition has been realised in collaboration with the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. In bringing this project to Germany, LAS has facilitated the creation of a new Plant Palette for Continental Europe. Previous editions of Pollinator Pathmaker were planted at the Eden Project, Cornwall; and Serpentine Galleries, London. The artwork was originally commissioned by the Eden Project, and funded by Garfield Weston Foundation. Additional founding supporters include Gaia Art Foundation and collaborators at Google Arts & Culture.
Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg: “Pollinator Pathmaker is about empathy for other species. This new living artwork in Berlin, created with LAS, will see the previously empty flower beds at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin thrumming with life. Germany has experienced a 75% decline in flying insects over the last 30 years, and this edition will help us support as many pollinator species as possible. Some of my favourite plants are in this new Continental Europe Plant Palette: the delicate, drooping russet and dusky pink flowers of the water avens (Geum rivale), visited by a whole host of insect species, the bright blue chicory (Cichorium intybus), loved by many insects including short and long tongued bumblebees, and the fabulous burgundy and white architectural towers of the long-leaved bear’s breech (Acanthus hungaricus). I believe that by planting art, we can become caretakers rather than consumers of an artwork, and move from representations of nature to seeing nature as art itself.”
Bettina Kames, Director of LAS: “For us at LAS, Pollinator Pathmaker truly embodies our spirit of experimentation. The artwork is a radical proposition on many levels: it reframes what a sculpture and its audience can be, and subverts human aesthetics to one that has a tangible impact within ecosystems. It is a visionary project that speaks to our times and our communities — human and non-human alike — and meaningfully expands LAS’s commitment to centring interspecies approaches. We love that the project is premised on translating a digital artwork into the soil, and is built on a model of generosity both for pollinators and the public. It opens up urgent conversations about climate change, environmental crisis, anthropocentrism and our planet, and further, enables us to take action.”
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Tuesday, 20. June 2023 – Sunday, 1. November 2026