Yevgeniya Kaganovich: grow

Yevgeniya Kaganovich conceived of grow as a series of durational installations in public buildings throughout the Milwaukee area. At each location, a system of interconnected plant-like forms, simulating a self-propagating organism in multiple stages of development, would grow over time. These systems were created from recycled plastic bags, and their growth rate was determined by the number of bags accumulated in an official recycling bin at each site. The layers of plastic were fused to create a surface similar to leather or skin, molded into plant-like forms, connected with plastic bag “thread” and stuffed with more bags. Like weeds, these organisms were meant to grow into unused and overlooked spaces: niches, stairwells, and other peripheral and forgotten architectural elements.

The project launched in October 2012 at the Lynden Sculpture Garden, where it continued for four years. This was Kaganovich’s first foray into extended community engagement. In addition to placing a bin at Lynden and inviting people to drop off their used plastic bags, she and her student researchers offered free monthly workshops, teaching the public how to manipulate plastic bags as a raw material to create more forms and plantings. During that time, there were additional “plantings” at multiple locations throughout the city of Milwaukee, and also in Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

“My goals for grow,” Kaganovich observed at the beginning of the project, “are to transform an artificial manipulated material into a seemingly unchecked, feral, opportunistic growth; to visualize and punctuate reuse by juxtaposing it with slow, methodical, labor-intensive making that plays with control, ‘craftiness,’ and precision; and to speculate about how artificial lifecycles are sustained.”