Recording the medicinal plants of Siwai, Bougainville

Kate Robertson

This photographic series documents medicinal plants from the Siwai region on Bougainville Island (Papua New Guinea) at a time of significant change in its cultural and political landscape. It considers new photographic modes for sensitively engaging with deep and living histories, by aligning analogue and digital characteristics found within the image and local knowledge systems.

Lumen prints are created on location in a cameraless method, through a reaction between environmental elements such as sunlight and plant extractions and light-sensitive paper, resulting in a residual imprint of the plant's chemical properties. The lumen prints, in their latent state, journeyed to Australia for a digital “fixing” process and are translated into data through the scanography process.

The series acknowledges the communities’ (urgent) desire for equilibrium between traditional and new knowledge systems, to allow both to thrive in an increasingly global society.


1.Oct 6:00 pm

Artist talk & Book launch

Artist Kate Robertson, together with Chief Jeffrey Noro of the Rura Clan and Chief Alex Dawia of the Taa Lupumoiku Clan, will present the ongoing cross cultural collaborative body of work – recording the medicinal plants of Siwai, Bougainville. The artist book, produced by Siwai people wil also be presented, detailing the plants’ uses and application in Motuana and English, as tool for both preservation of language, ecosystem management, education and empowering the local community.


Jarvis Dooney Galerie Linienstraße 116 10115 Berlin

Registration required
030 37 43 26 72