The Memory of Plants. Michael Marder and José Ramón Ais


The Memory of Plants: José Ramón Ais
I propose a landscape essay, a garden narrative which interweaves the biographies of three historical characters with the “biographies” of the three eponymous botanical species whose scientific name was given in their honour. A Renaissance pope, an ancient philosopher, and a translator, figures who played a key role in the evolution and dissemination of knowledge in the West, but in whom the shadow of resulting violence is also present.

The result is a garden which draws an ecosystem where plants, humans and everything that inhabits it approach the same level, where pre-established hierarchies can be forgotten. The design of the landscape is defined by the way the plants that inhabit it behave, and alterations in productivity, in a dialogue with the behaviour and historical consequences of the people they were named after. A game where memory is hybridized in order to reconsider the way we relate to our habitat.

Vegetal Memories: Michael Marder
Do plants have memory? If so, how is it intertwined with our human remembrance? And in what ways can plants figure as the mnemonic centres of gravity for the stories about our lives we narrate both to ourselves and to others? “Vegetal Memories” explores the necessary ambiguity inherent in attempts to attribute memory to plants; to commemorate individual trees, flowers, or flora as a whole; and to weave together the multiple threads of human and vegetal modes of remembering.


José Ramón Ais Larizgoitia has a degree in Fine Arts which he has complemented with studies in garden design. His work reflects on and analyses concepts related to the construction and representation of the landscape, exploring emotional links and the ways in which narratives, ideologies, desires and utopias are projected onto nature. His work combines photography and image post-production techniques, garden design, fieldwork and historical research. A fundamental process in his work is the cultivation and observation of the species he works with.

Michael Marder is Ikerbasque Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain and Professor-at-Large in the Institute of Humanities at Diego Portales University in Santiago, Chile. His research interests include phenomenology, environmental philosophy, and political thought. An author of eleven books—including, most recently, Pyropolitics (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), Dust (Bloomsbury, 2016), and, with Luce Irigaray, Through Vegetal Being (Columbia UP, 2016)—he is currently elaborating an integrated philosophical approach to the question of energy. His website is