Factory Walk

Katrin Hornek’s Plant Plant consists of her solo exhibition and a choreographed intervention at the former Montecatini factory with performer Sabina Holzer (Factory Walk).
The exhibition presents a new film and a series of sculptures that situate the chemical element of nitrogen as the prism through which to look at the history of fertilizer production with its immediate and planetary entanglements. Hornek roots her research into the site of the former Montecatini factory in Sinigo, Merano, a manufacturing plant established by Benito Mussolini in 1924 to produce ammonia – a basic element in fertilizers and explosives. When built, this factory was the second largest in Europe after Germany“s IG Farben and was part of a stringent program of South Tyrolean industrialization and self-sufficiency for Italy.

Using a speculative approach, Hornek follows the technological developments that led to the invention of synthetically fixed nitrogen in 1911, intertwining it with the chronicles and vicissitudes of the factory workers – both in the 1920s and the 1970s. The choice of assuming both a molecular and earthly perspective to narrate this history makes graspable the otherwise invisible reciprocity and continuity across human, land, animal and techno bodies. „We make these fertilizers travel. From the atmosphere into the factories. From the factories into the fields.From the soil into the plants. From the plants into the human bodies. Into the bodies of livestock … Building all proteins, all hormones, all DNA for the world „s populations“ the voice-over in the film narrates. Accordingly, Plant Plant unfolds along this trajectory to arrive at the present-day use of ammonia and the consequences of its production, which provide fertile ground for the expansion of the chemicals industry.

Curated by: Emanuele Guidi and BAU
In collaboration with Sabina Holzer (text / video, choreographed intervention), Bruno Szenk (technical assistance sculpture), TE-R (3D Modeling and Animation, Sound), Rachel Müller (Voice).

A special thanks to: REM-TEC, Sinigo-Merano This exhibition was produced in collaboration with Phileas – A Fund for Contemporary Art

Photo: Luca Guadagnini, 2021

With the kind support of: BMKÖS – Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, öffentlichen Dienst und SportWWTF – Wiener Wissenschafts-, Forschungs- und Technologiefonds
Autonome Provinz Bozen Südtirol, Deutsche Kultur Città di Bolzano, Dipartimento Cultura Regione Autonoma Trentino-Alto Adige / Südtirol Stiftung Südtiroler Sparkasse