/ Dovilė Dagienė / Photo story

Memories of Plants

I came up with the idea of printing photographs on plant leaves when I came across the story of the botanist Jakub Mowszowicz while working on the plant memory theme in the archives. Mowszowicz was a botanist of Jewish origin who worked at Stefan Batory University in Vilnius. Before the war, he defended his dissertation on the flora of the Paneriai meadows. During the war, the young scientist had to go into hiding in the botanical garden. There are testimonies and stories that he brought Jewish children from the Vilnius Ghetto to the botanical garden during the war. It seems that he wanted to show the children the garden and the plants, as if to give them a chance to recover from the horrors of war. This story inspired me to search for children’s faces in the archives.

In the works History Looks at Us, Classmates, Sister and Brother, and other prints in the series Memories of Plants, plant leaves are used as the material on which archival photographs of children from Vilnius are transferred. “These photographs are the reflections of childhood, found in the archives of the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History. In the post-war years, after the liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto, these photographs, like leaves falling from the trees, were scattered in courtyards and streets. The shadows of painful experiences, unfulfilled destinies and dreams stare back at us from the framed leaves.

In this project I used the anthotype technique (Gr. ánthos – flower) to create the image. This is a long-established alternative organic photographic process that uses light-sensitive plant pigments, usually chlorophyll, to produce a photographic image. One of the possible results of the anthotype technique is chlorophyll imprints or, as I propose to call them, phytographies (Gr. phyton – plant, grapho – write).

Dovilė Dagienė aka DoDA (born 1981) is an artist and photographer who lives and works in Vilnius. In 2020 graduated from Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, Photography and Media Art with DFA (Doctor of Fine Arts) degree. Research interests include memory, imagination, time, and place in photography. With her latest project on plant memory, the artist is exploring the boundaries of analogue photographic mediums.