Bartaku: Aronia Babe

A berry that is really an apple

Various projects 2014-

In 2009, at the early stage of researching the relationship between light, energy and bodies, Bartaku (Bart Vandeput, b. 1970, Belgium) was guided towards an abandoned Aronia m. (chokeberry) plantation at the edge of Aizpute in Latvia. Since then, Bartaku has been returning every year to the 1 Ha Aronia m. Power Plantation, where one of the 15 remaining lot-owners grants him access. Hundreds of Aronia bushes and companion plants have been growing just outside the little Mid-Western shrinking Latvian town since 1991.

The Aronia berry is an interesting little thing, as it connects with light, defends itself against it and transforms it into energy. And as Bartaku tells me, it is not actually even a berry – it is an apple. He describes his interest in Aronia as an intimate relationship. And from the sounds of it, that is exactly what it is.

One aspect of the relationship between Bartaku and the Aronia m. involves the name change of the berry from its science given name Aronia m. to Baroa belaobara (from now on the Baroa belaobara berry will be referred to as Babe). This attempt to change the berry’s name is bound to fail since the science world will surely not accept this formal request. Nevertheless, due to the request, the old name Aronia melanocarpa or Aronia mitschurini (it is unknown which variant it is) is rendered obsolete and without a referent. So, a new berry has emerged through Bartaku’s practice, first as image, then as clay shape. The first in-vitro experiments towards the new Aronia m. are currently undertaken at Aalto University’s Biofilia Lab in Espoo, Finland. Continue reading

- Tessa Aarnisuo