ART SCIENCE dialogue | Arja Hop & Peter Svenson and Hans Cornelissen

February 15, 2024 | 4 -6 PM

In collaboration with the Amsterdam Sustainability Institute and the Environmental Humanities Center Amsterdam,  the VU ART SCIENCE gallery has invited scientists to take part in a moderated dialogue with the artists exhibited in Life of Plants. The ART SCIENCE dialogues explore the multifaceted relationship between humans and plants. The talks will investigate various dimensions of the plant world such as their therapeutic aspects , their role in shaping landscapes and identities, the impact of categorization and colonial exploitation, and the intersection of technology with the botanical world. As a whole, the dialogues investigate  how we can create a more sustainable future, by gaining a deeper understanding of both our local environment  and the life of plants.

In the first edition on February 15 artist duo Arja Hop and Peter Svenson together with scientist Hans Cornelissen will discuss the topic of human effect on plants in our local environment. In their work, Searching for Florachrome, Hop and Svenson aim to give a voice to nature, specifically the plant world located around the gallery. Through the use of color dyes, they depict the colors of plants and their habitats, seeking to understand the influences of outside factors on the tonality of colors. The dyes are  then transformed into photographic images, offering an alternative perspective on the specific area that showcases the diversity of plants in our urban landscape.

Through the unique palette of plant colors we will explore the connection plants and man-made landscape. What is our connection to our local environment? How do we shape and what effect do our actions have on the identity of our surroundings?  Let’s contemplate together the role we, as humans, play in taking care of biodiversity, examining the fine line between our contributions and the potential disruptions to ecosystems.

This discussion will be moderated by dr. Kyveli Mavrokordopoulou. The event will take place in the ART SCIENCE gallery.

This event is part of a public programme of the exhibition Life of Plants.


The artist duo Arja Hop (1968, Hierden, Netherlands) and Peter Svenson (1956, Palmerston North, New Zealand) have collaborated on analogue photographic research projects since 2015, aiming to give a voice to nature, particularly the plant world. Their long-term projects focus on depicting plant colors and their habitats, exploring the influences on tonality, specific compounds, and the meaning they convey. Combining photography, chemistry, and ecology, the duo investigates how plants react to their environment, touching on current environmental issues. Through their ‘residue projects,’ Hop and Svenson extract pigment from plants, applying it directly to analogue film and prints.

Prof. dr. Hans Cornelissen is a distinguished Plant Ecologist with a Ph.D. from Utrecht University, awarded in May 1993. His ecological research focuses on exploring a myriad of topics such as arctic ecosystems, biogeochemical cycling, cryptogams and comparative plant ecology. A central question that drives his research: “How (much) does the functional biodiversity of ecosystems, through the traits of their component plant species and types, control carbon, nutrient and water cycling in different biomes of the world, and how does this feed back to climate?”

Kyveli Mavrokordopoulou is an art historian specializing in the intersection of art and science, particularly with a focus on nuclear technologies. Her interdisciplinary research, at the intersection of art history and environmental humanities, explores nuclear aesthetics, the visual representation of extraction, and the material histories of art and the environment. Currently, she is working on an exhibition about the atomic age at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris (fall 2024). She is a board member of the Enviromental Humanities Center at the VU.