First Cinema for House Plants Opening in New York City

  • Location:
    New York

Chelsea Gallery to Screen Foreign Travel Documentaries for Audience of Local Palms and Ficus Trees

February 4, 2010 - Uprooting 450 million years of botanical history, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats announced this week the first opportunity for plants to see distant parts of the planet vicariously -
by going to the movies. By special arrangement with the nonprofit AC Institute, Mr. Keats is building a botanical cinema in the Chelsea district of New York City. The theater will host his series of
travel documentaries, featuring a selection of European skies, playing from February 4th through March 13th.

“Skies are the ultimate botanical tourist attraction,” says Mr. Keats. “The cirrus and altostratus cloud formations over Paris are as absorbing for plants as Notre Dame and the Louvre are for humans.”

Strange Skies will be presented on a special screen developed by Mr. Keats, which projects the diffused light from his movies onto the plants’ foliage. “Plants don’t have human eyesight, and perceive light only in aggregate,” explains the artist, “but they’re highly sensitive to fluctuations in the spectrum since luminosity is the basis of photosynthesis. As an entertainment form, cinema was practically made for them.”

Mr. Keats has some experience in this realm, having previously filmed pornography for plants - featuring honeybees pollinating flowers - a highly-popular work acclaimed by Reuters and the BBC, most recently screened for an audience of zinnias at Montana State University. However he acknowledges that porn may be “a specialized taste, unlikely to appeal to the many plants that reproduce asexually – whereas immobility is a nearly universal condition within the botanical kingdom.” In other words, his travel documentaries are suitable for all audiences.

They may even be interesting for people. “Movie theaters are appealing to us because the big screen makes cinema a shared experience,” Mr. Keats observes. “This is a chance to share experiences with other species.”

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The AC Institute [Direct Chapel] is a nonprofit arts organization located at 547 W. 27th St, 5th Floor, in New York City. Hours are Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1:00 to 6:00 PM, and Thursdays from 1:00 to 8:00 PM. More information:

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Jonathon Keats is a conceptual artist, fabulist, and critic residing in San Francisco, CA, USA. Recently he choreographed the first ballet for honeybees at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He has also exhibited extraterrestrial abstract artwork at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, unveiled a prototype ouija voting booth for the 2008 election at the Berkeley Art Museum, opened a porn theater for house plants at Montana State University, and attempted to genetically engineer God in collaboration with scientists at the University of California. Exhibited internationally, his projects have been documented by PBS, NPR, and the BBC World Service, garnering favorable attention in periodicals ranging from The San Francisco Chronicle and The Los Angeles Times, to Nature and New Scientist, to Flash Art and ArtUS. Since graduating summa cum laude from Amherst College in 1994, he has been a guest lecturer at UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis, and has been awarded fellowships by Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, the MacNamara Foundation, and the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona. He is represented by Modernism Gallery in San Francisco. For more information, please contact Mr. Keats at jonathon\, or see\_KEATS/