Lost and Found Gardens of Manhattan



Kristyna and Marek Milde, Carpetorium, Lost and Found Gardens of Manhattan, site-specific installation at MoCA Westport, 2021
rescued discarded house plants, carpet, 8’ x 10’ x 8’



Carpetorium, Lost and Found Gardens of Manhattan is a project that explores the reality and fiction of our everyday relationship to nature. The installation consists of a collection of household tropical plants we rescued from the New York waste stream that are planted into an ornamental “flying” carpet.  People are welcome to interact and sit on the carpet to experience the garden up close.

Carpetorium investigates the connection of common household plants to a wider environment by following a story of botany that connects remote places such as Manhattan homes and tropical forests. The plants are featured in a botanical garden-like display, where the exhibits are showcased in their natural surroundings;  here we use a living-room carpet, to create a connection to the plant’s natural habitat, the New York City apartment. Each plant has a botanical sign listing the name and the place where we found it such as Upper East Side, Chelsea, etc., and the place of its origins such as Madagascar revealing the transcontinental migration of plants to NYC and their transformation from the wild into house plants.

For the purpose of Carpetorium, we undertook an expedition to seek and collect the Manhattans’ abandoned flora, to investigate its destiny in the urban jungle and the role living plants have in our lives. Interestingly these plants often coming from the desert or the understory of the tropical forest are fragile and endangered in our homes as in many of the environments, where they originally came from. By placing the plants on the flying carpet we are emphasizing this mobility and transcontinental migration.

We often use found and discarded material in our work and use it as a resource material to research cultural phenomena. We have noticed that tropical plants especially the large ones get often throw away because of their size. We have ventured on expeditions in Manhattan to collected a number of these abandoned discarded house plants.  We are interested in the migration process of these plants, on one hand, they are transported from their natural shady tropical climate to the shady and heated Manhattan homes to be consequently abandoned on the streets. The flying carpet is a metaphor for the plant’s transcontinental migration, its displacement, and the disappearance of tropical forests.

In the project, we are interested in creating a garden that will be a platform for awareness a ground for a better understanding of our daily dealing with nature.