Leotta was not the only artist to transfer a garden to a foreign space for the exhibition, though Australian artist Libby Harward’s reiteration of her 2018 work, ‘Ngali Ngariba – We Talk’, does this with far different intent. With a focus on Australia, this site-specific installation and sound work gives voice to plants whose arrival in European gardens occurred through conquest and colonialism. Consequently, the bell jars with perspiring plants hold much more than an organic part of the place that they are from.
As Dr. Glenda Harward-Nalder, an academic who works in tandem with Harward, explains: “First Nation Peoples listen to plants and plants listen to us. Ours is a reciprocal relationship.” In this work, invisible voices speak in the languages of the plants, asking in their mother tongues that we—like Australia’s first people—hear them. “In Gropius Bau Museum, when Gagil [the plant] asks Minyangu ngari gadji? (Why am I here) our Ancestors, who have been waiting nearby for 140 years, will answer, Yuwayi bunji ngali ganyagu wunjayi! (Farewell friend, we are going home now!)”, Harward-Nadler concludes in her essay about ‘Ngali Ngariba – We Talk’. She is referring to the ancestral remains of over 50 Indigenous Australians who—after a long battle—are being returned from German institutions to rest in their homeland this year.