Strange Plants III is Here
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I started Zioxla in 2014, and I made the first book when I was living in a small village in France, far away from almost everyone I knew. It was a flora-filled coping mechanism for a lonely expat. I compiled the second book after I moved to Barcelona, living on the 18th floor of a high-rise building without access to many plants (except for a cactus I precariously brought with me from France). I craved more interaction with plants, and so Strange Plants III was born.
Is there a connection between all three books?
All three books investigate what artists think about plants and how they portray or interpret them in their work. But I suppose the connection is also my personal taste. I curate the books much in the same way a gardener selects plants and flowers — choosing favorites with a focus on variety. In the “Petals” section, for example, for which 15 tattoo artists created a piece of flash, I chose artists I would personally get tattooed by, across styles. The Magic Rosa, Charline Bataille, Fuzi Uvtpk and Soto Gang, among others, contributed one-of-kind designs, ranging from a big-breasted poodle with flowers in its fur to a Doberman wearing a daisy wreath.
What makes Strange Plants III unique from the first and second collection?
I made Strange Plants III in the California harbor town where I grew up. For this book, I had to find another way to push myself out of my comfort zone, as living in Europe had done before. So I included more artists than ever — 50 appear in this book — most of whom I have not worked with before.
What inspires you to continue to focus on nature?
The aim of Strange Plants III is to continue the compelling conversations about how we perceive and interpret both the bizarre and beautiful sides of art and nature. Since the release of the first book, a community of like-minded, inquisitive and creative people has grown up around these conversations, and I hope this community will expand with the publication of this book.
What is the relation between each artist and their chosen piece of nature? What is the significance in the correlation between the artist, the medium they use and its representation?
It’s different for every artist — each is drawn to different plants in the same way that they’re drawn to different mediums. And the plants symbolize different things in each artist’s work as well: For example, in Martin Basher’s paintings, palm trees and birds of paradise represent the excesses of consumerism. Othelo Gervacio uses his delicate compositions to question the ambiguous nature of flowers as gifts. Margo Wolowiec’s glitchy textiles of roses sourced from Instagram reflect the conflicts of digital culture.
What’s your favorite plant?
That’s such a tough question. I’m definitely on the anthurium bandwagon. I love its waxiness and heart shape, and its phallic spadix makes it sort of sexy. Water lilies have always been a favorite too, and Marilyn Mugot’s dreamlike photos of them made me even more obsessed. And the weirdly gigantic, foul-smelling corpse flower is also a fave, which Megan Marrin captured perfectly in her large-scale paintings.
Which collection within the book speaks to you most?
That’s another hard one. I only include works and series that speak to me in some way. But I love how Sojourner Truth Parsons series is about the emotions she attached to a garden outside her therapist’s office. I love how open she was about that, and that she channeled her feelings into these intensely beautiful paintings of water falling on roses. In a much smaller way, I did that with the first Strange Plants book. I transformed my loneliness and depression into a book. I like when people can admit to being fucked up and, at the same time, do something with it.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
There’s a ton of places I’d like to live — from Cannon Beach in Oregon to Athens, Greece. But right now I’d love to have a little mid-century house in the desert surrounded by tangled and misshapen cactuses.
Can we expect a Strange Plants IV?
There was never supposed to be a Strange Plants III. Or even a Strange Plants II. But the first book prompted a second, and then the second book inspired a response. So, my answer is probably not. But that’s what I said about Strange Plants II and III, too.
Strange Plants III is out July 1.