Anjo Bolarda in his most recent exhibition, MINE, digs into the lucrative plant industry currently trending in the Philippines. A Google search for “plants for sale” yields about 129,000 hits in under a second. With social media sites full of flexers of expensive plants cherished for their aesthetics and limited supply, prices for some choice plant babies can cost as high as 300,000 pesos, with even then-neglected greenery now being poached and sold at online and physical markets.
“Mine” is the word used by enthusiastic plant collectors to get first dibs on the plant of their choice, and translates collecting foliage to hunting for treasure and harvesting the earth’s bounty for business and pleasure.
Bolarda in Mine exhibits a video of the artist prospecting for gold with a metal detector, set against a backdrop of lush foliage. He also creates cyanotypes in the shape of the holey monstrosity Variegated Monstera Deliciosa, currently one of the most expensive plants in the global market due to its unsettling beauty and rarity. These plants are sold per cutting and valued depending on the number of leaves, so Bolarda offers them ready to pick. Instead of the vivid green and milky white tones of the real plant, cyan blue and light streaks characterize the photographic prints that show faithful renderings of the “Swiss Cheese” plant and gold deposits on leaves under electrographs, with the application of generous gold leaf lending rich contrast.