Embracing ideas of consumption, gender, love, power, protest culture, experience of war, plants and dogs, Alevtyna Kakhidze is co-founder of a residency program for international artists in the village of Muzychi, The Muzychi Expanded History Project. Having grown up in the coal mining Donetsk region of Ukraine, she has experienced the country’s abrupt and chaotic changes from the days of the USSR to the post-Soviet imbalanced environment, including the current undeclared war between Russia and Ukraine.
To raise awareness of climate change and more sustainable living in the era of global shifts in society, especially in post-pandemic times, she has initiated the laboratory Adult Garden to observe coexistence and the dynamics of plants freed from the gardener’s intervention.
During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Alevtyna and her US collaborators embark on a garden-focused project that centers on critical observation of organized experimental gardens and natural conservation areas. Using aerial drone photography, stationary cameras, and analysis of plants’ biochemical composition, the artists and scientists from University of Kansas study and learn from the competition and collaboration observable among plants, but also between plants and living organisms such as insects and birds. Case studies focus on the interaction between native and non-native (including invasive) plants, and explore the cases when a plant native to the US became invasive in Ukraine and vice versa. The project also includes a computer-assisted analysis of gathered data. Beyond science, the artists engages with ethnobotany and learns about traditional Native American practices of gardening and medicinal plant use.