warehouse warehouse

Resilient Weeds – a Botanic Archive

by Marwa Arsanios

“Images can be used to capture the ineffable …. Some things just need to be shown, not merely stated. Artistic images can help us access those elusive hard-to-put-into-words aspects of knowledge that might otherwise remain hidden or ignored” 1

Biological illustrations have been used ever since for capturing ecological systems and categorizing living beings according to their anatomy and physical appearance. Once a researcher finds a species, a detailed observation allows to make an illustration as accurate and detailed as possible. These would be used as abstractions to identify species, to map flora and fauna and to notice local changes.

Marwa Arsanios depicted Resilent Weeds in Beirut – plants that survive the toxicity of garbage dumps. Since the 1990s Beirut has undergone rapidly urbanization and capitalization alongside with littering and accumulation of waste. Arsanios observes and documents the new emerging ecosystem on garbage dumps and finds a new species. Resilient Weeds. It is a botanic archive, a mapping device for the different dumps in Beirut and a forecast of future privatization.2


  1. (Weber, 2008, p.44)

  2. The drawings are part of the installation “Falling is not collapsing. Falling is Extending”(Beirut, 2016).

“Matter, like meaning, is not an individually articulated or static entity. matter is not little bits of nature, or a blank slate, surface, or site passively awaiting signification; nor is it an uncontested ground for scientific, feminist, or marxist theories. matter is not a support, location, referent, or source of sustainability for discourse. matter is not immutable or passive. it does not require the mark of an external force like culture or history to complete it. matter is always already an ongoing historicity.” (Karen Barad, Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter)

„Matter is not simply „a kind of citationality“ (Butler,1993,15) the surface effect of human bodies, or the end product of linguistic or discursive acts. Material constraints and exclusions and the material dimensions of regulatory practices are important factors in the process of materialization. The dynamics of intra-activity entails matter as an active „agent“ in is ongoing materialization.“ (Karen Barad, Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter)

“Boundary-making practices, that is, discursive practices, are fully implicated in the dynamics of intra-activity through which phenomena come to matter. In other words, materiality is discursive (i.e., material phenomena are inseperable from the apparatuses of bodily production: matter emerges out of and includes as part of its being the ongoing reconfiguring of boundaries), just as discursive practices are always already material (i.e., they are ongoing material (re)configurings of the world. […]The relationship between the material and the discursive is one of mutual entailment. Neither is articulated/articulable in the absences of the other; matter and meaning are mutually articulated.” (Karen Barad, Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter)

Marwa Arsanios (1978) lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon. She obtained the Master of Fine Arts from University of the Arts, London in 2007 and was a researcher in the Fine Arts Department at the Jan Van Eyck Academie until 2012. In 2007 Arsanios founded 98weeks with Mirene Arsanios, a research project, artists’ organization and project space. It is conceived as a research project that shifts its attention to a new topic every 98 weeks. Focusing on artistic research, combining both theoretical and practical forms of inquiry, 98weeks’ projects take multiple forms such as workshops, community projects, seminars, reading groups, publications and exhibitions. Arsanios exhibited her artistic work at NGBK, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, in Berlin and M HKA, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, in Antwerp. Furthermore her work was shown at Art Dubai in the Bidoun Lounge (Art Park 2009), at the Forum Expanded of the Berlinale (2010), at Tokyo Wonder Site, Institute of Contemporay Art and Cultural Exchange (2011), the 12th Istanbul Biennale (2011) and at the Venice Biennale (2013). Her videos were screened at several festivals such as the Rio de Janeiro film festival in 2010, the e-flux storefront in New York, and at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.