Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory
(Audio Guide)

Jenny Yurshansky

Curator: Dr. Rotem Rozental

This project emerged from a moment of complete standstill, in which we all became sheltered in place, witnesses to extreme conditions that upended life as we know it. This immersive guide consists of narrated stories of plants found outside your window, although they were categorized as invasive and included in California’s “blacklist.” The guide began with plants found at AJU’s campus, and we hope you will bring them into your world: your yard, sidewalk, your favorite park. Take it with you. Locate these plants. Listen to their stories, see what they tell you about the world around you, about yourself. 

Nationwide “blacklists” of plants differentiate “natives” and “non-natives.” The “non-natives” are outlined as competitors with other plants, as a source of negative economic impact, or simply as un-aesthetically pleasing. This guide identifies them and gives voice to their potential testimonies to the human experience. 

This is the first of a two-part project by artist Jenny Yurshansky, which offers viewpoints of immigration, belonging, and otherness, as these are weaved into botanical landscapes that reflect people and history. 

Yurshansky has been gathering observations, samples, and narratives for a decade. Here, she researched the AJU campus and invited actors to narrate monologues written for each plant. We now share these with you. 

Actors: Reiko Aylesworth, Ali Ahn, Fernanda Andrade, Andrea Bowen, Corey Brill, Blair Brown, Michelle Carter, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Jay Erker, Holley Fain, Jason Butler Harner, Joy Osmanski, David Ross, Fernando Siqueira, Ramiz Monsef, Bernard White, Karen White

Audio Editing and Mixing: Roy Regev


No. 1
Name:
Nerium oleander (Oleander)
Point of Origin: Asia
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Reiko Aylesworth


No. 2
Name: Pittosporum undulatum (Victorian box)
Point of Origin: Southeastern Australia
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Andrea Bowen


No. 3
Name: Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island date palm)
Point of Origin: Canary Islands
Date of Entry: 1600s
Voice: David Ross


No. 4
Name:
Rubus armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry)
Point of Origin: Armenia
Date of Entry: 1885
Voice: Jason Butler Harner


No. 5
Name:
Cotoneaster lacteus (Milkflower cotoneaster)
Point of Origin: China
Date of Entry: 1854
Voice:  Ali Ahn


No. 6
Name:
Eucalyptus globulus (Tasmanian blue gum)
Point of Origin: Southeastern Australia
Date of Entry: 1856
Voice:  Ali Ahn


No. 7
Name:
Pennisetum villosum (Feather grass)
Point of Origin: Africa
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Michelle Carter


No. 8
Name:
Sonchus oleraceus (Common sowthistle)
Point of Origin: Europe
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Reiko Aylesworth


No. 9
Name: Carpobrotus edulis (Highway ice plant)
Point of Origin: South Africa
Date of Entry: Early 1900s
Voice: Jay Erker


No. 10
Name: Washingtonia robusta (Mexican fan palm)
Point of Origin: Northwest Mexico
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Fernando Siqueira


No. 11
Name: Olea europaea (Olive tree)
Point of Origin: Mediterranean basin
Date of Entry: 1769
Voice: Holley Fain


No. 12
Name: Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda grass)
Point of Origin: Turkey and Pakistan
Date of Entry: Mid-1800s
Voice: Blair Brown


No. 13
Name: Echium candicans (Pride of Madeira)
Point of Origin: Northwest Coast of Africa
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Saidah Arrika Ekulona


No. 14
Name: Eucalyptus camaldulensis (River red gum)
Point of Origin: Australia
Date of Entry: 1800s
Voice: Karen White

 


No. 15
Name:
Pennisetum setaceum (Purple fountain grass)
Point of Origin: Africa
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Bernard White


No. 16
Name: Centaurea melitensis (Malta star thistle)
Point of Origin: Europe and North Africa
Date of Entry: 1797
Voice: Anonymous


No. 17
Name:
Symphytum asperum (Russian comfrey)
Point of Origin: Caucasia
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Jason Butler Harner


No. 18
Name:
Vicia villosa (Hairy vetch)
Point of Origin: Europe
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Ramiz Monsef


No. 19
Name:
Ailanthus altissima (Tree of heaven)
Point of Origin: China
Date of Entry: 1850s
Voice: Corey Brill


No. 20
Name:
Schinus terebinthifolius (Brazilian pepper tree)
Point of Origin: Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay
Date of Entry: Mid-1800s
Voice: Fernanda Andrade


No. 21
Name:
Nicotiana glauca (Tree tobacco)
Point of Origin: South America
Date of Entry: 1800s
Voice: Joy Osmanski