Alien Species, 2022 

car installation with Japanese knotweed.
Light and car cosmetics.

​January 20 –  February 19, 2023
Location: Corner of Mehringdamm and Obentrautstr. 10961 Berlin

Nike Kühn’s art reflects upon practices and objects for emergency preparedness and crisis prevention. Objects which are seamlessly embedded in our daily lives are put into the spotlight. By altering their materiality, Kühn invites in, and coaxes out, a sense of ambiguity. Through this juxtaposition of attributes, our perception is questioned and the objects’ cohesiveness is gently dismantled in order to afterwards be reassembled. New fictions emerge. In Kühn’s recent installations, plants and soil interface with metal, steel, glass, and other materials integrated into our everyday activities.

CARPARK presents Alien Species, in which a car becomes a greenhouse for the neophyte species called Japanese knotweed. The inside of a silver Saab is covered in soil to maintain the plants, which turn brown and lose their leaves in winter. The license plate reads “RYNTR JPNC,” hinting at the botanical name of the plant species: Reynoutria japonica. The car, closed and discreetly lit from the inside, is placed in the cityscape, but not in a regular parking space. This creates an interruption that gives a rather uncanny impression and invites the spectator to wonder.

The work’s title, Alien Species, is drawn from the English term for neophytes. By invoking this term, Kühn invites a critical reflection upon what is seen as alien and what as native. Neophytes define species which were originally introduced to Central Europe as useful or ornamental plants in the course of colonial explorations. The attribute “invasive” is often assigned to neophytes, which tend to grow rapidly, often outgrowing and sometimes leading to the extinction of other species in the environment. For this reason, the cultivation of the so-called “invasive alien species” is restricted by law. Nevertheless, neophytes have proven to be more resistant to rapid climate change. The car, functionally defective but seemingly intact, becomes a safe space for the plant life in- and outside of it; at the same time, by showcasing the neophytes, it functions as a liminal space. Broadly associated with movement and speed, the car remains still in order to accommodate the pace of the plants inhabiting it.

NIKE KÜHN (b. 1992 in Hanover) lives and works in Leipzig. She graduated from Braunschweig University of Fine Arts in 2020. She is currently a masters student at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig. Kühn works with sculpture as well as installations, increasingly mixing 3D scans and other digital techniques into her artistic processes. Her work has been shown in group and solo exhibitions, including: Kunstverein Wolfsburg (2022); K2, Konsumverein Braunschweig (2022); Kestner Gesellschaft, Hanover (2022); Kino der Jugend, Leipzig (2021). Kühn also worked as a costume designer at the Staatstheater Hannover (2016-2017) and has received grants from the Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen and the Stiftung Kunstfonds, among others.