Art in corona times 93. Is it possible to be a revolutionary and like flowers?; Nest, The Hague

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,

One clover, and a bee,

And revery.

The revery alone will do,

If bees are few.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Anne Geene

On the 25th of April 1974 – i remember it well – the military and the people of Portugal expelled the dictator Marcello Caetano, who fled to Brazil.

Anne Geene

Now the way was open for Portugal’s colonies to become independent and for the Portuguese state to wrestle itself from fascistoid military authoritarianism, a legacy of the Interwar period.

front Camille Henrot, back CPR

My father, a decent social-democrat, was delighted seeing it on TV and it was as if the revolutionary blood of his pre-war youth ran through his veins again in all its redness.

Camille Henrot

The revolution became known as the Carnation Revolution as red carnations were put in the muzzles of the soldiers’ guns by the people and by the soldiers themselves.

Camille Henrot

Red carnations – like red roses – are symbols of love and affection, and of socialism and as such of social justice.

Camille Henrot

For a flower with almost no fragrance (and with no thorns) this was quite something.

Mehraneh Atashi

It also reminds me of how at my mother’s cremation the undertaker had changed the red roses we as a family had ordered, for white ones, to our despair.


White roses are bland, without any love or passion. They represent an icy kind of virginity.  


Quite different from, for instance, the whiteness of magnolias.


Magnolias represent or symbolise nothing in western culture as far as i know.

Rossella Biscotti

That may be because its name was used only from the 18th century  onwards, a scientific name given by a Frenchman in Martinique.

Rossella Biscotti

It was named after the French botanist Magnol.

Mehraneh Atashi

Magnolias had their native range in the Americas, and were later on spread over the world as a decorative plant, and so the name of Magnol and part the history of French colonialism became household, without most people knowing it.

Milena Bonilla

But there is another *imperialist* story connected to magnolias.

Milena Bonilla

They belong to the oldest groups of flowering plants, which conquered the world during the Cretaceous, the age of dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex and the likes.

Lily van der Stokker

Flowering plants became part of the ecosystem of the world that both cultivated such monsters as well as survived their demise.

Patricia Kaersenhout

Maybe magnolias would be a good symbol of survival.

Patricia Kaersenhout

They are not as intricate as orchids, not as passionate as red roses and it may prove difficult to put them in the muzzle of a gun, but they are simple, even a bit primitive. Isn’t that enough?

Patricia Kaersenhout

Can you be revolutionary and like flowers? That is the question.

front Maria Pask, back Philipp Gufler

Well, to many revolutionaries it was quite out of the question.

Philipp Gufler

But still, flowers are silent witnesses, and as symbols of almost everything one could think of, they are indelible in the history of human thinking and imagination.

Ruchama Noorda

The wonderful exhibition Is it possible to be a revolutionary and like flowers? at Nest is accompanied by a 78 page publication.

Ruchama Noorda

It has a good and comprehensive introduction by Laurie Cluitmans and some text by the artists about their favourite plants and flowers.

Ruchama Noorda

There is so much text in it, that it would be superfluous for me to write a long article about it in Villa La Repubblica, although it would deserve it.

Otobong Nkanga

Instead here are some impressions of the show and some private musings which may or may not give you an incentive to go and take a look at the show yourself (as long as corona measures permit).

Otobong Nkanga

Now that you’ve come here, you might as well subscribe to Villa Next Door (top right of the page)!

(Right click to enlarge pictures)

(All links open in new tabs)

© Villa Next Door 2021

Contents of all photographs courtesy to all artists and Nest, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.