Encounter

#16 Japanese Knotweed

With

Recorded on 13 February, 2023 at the Jan van Eyck Academie

During this Future Materials Encounter, artist and Jan van Eyck alumnus Alaa Abu Asad presents a wide range of his research materials as well as tells stories, re-enacts sections of court cases involving japanese knotweed and discusses pertinent topics from socioecology, nationalism, ethnobotany, gender, and race.

Alaa has been following current debates on how to manage invasive plant species, including japanese knotweed. These vary from eradication and utilisation to potential symbiosis. Japanese knotweed is a designated ‘invasive’ plant species by many municipalities and local councils across Europe and North America. It has been characterised as ‘alien’ and its rhizome root structure is adept at exploiting cracks and fissures near buildings. However, japanese knotweed shoots are edible; its leaves can be used for tea when dried; and when cut its long stems turn into lightweight hollow structures.

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