A Desire For Organic Order

Lyndsay Mann (Artist)

Research output: Non-textual formArtefact


A Desire For Organic Order explores the concept of nativeness and how belonging is constructed.

Embedded with histories of nationhood and identity, the sensorially rich environment of the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, also home to the garden’s Centre for Middle Eastern Plants, provides a point of departure for thinking about migration and dispersal, belonging and difference.

Connecting evaluations of nativeness in the botanical realm to shifts in perceptions of self and otherness for the individual, the film explores the underlying themes and experiences that bind voices from the past with the voices in our head and the spoken words in our present.

The topic of nativeness and the implication of real bodies in processes of taxonomy are addressed in the narrative diversely, from botanical history to the new constitution in Iraq, parapsychology, and Burmese strategies of mind-flight, and includes the last letter written by the artist's grandfather, stationed in Burma in World War II, which reached home only after his death.
Filmmaker Trinh T Minh-ha suggests that meaning can be political only when it does not let itself be easily stabilized, when it does not rely on any single source of authority but rather empties or decentralizes it.
The artist is narrator. To avoid a single authoritative position, she recounts collected individual testimonies from diaries and autobiographies, informal conversations and interviews she conducted with geographers and ethnographers, botanists and horticulturalists, psychotherapists, psychologists and parapsychologists, philosophers and political scientists, peers and family, which are numbered and catalogued in the film.

Botanical specimens are positioned within an institutional and historical context categorized and documented through scientific analysis and nomenclature, yet articulate human settlements, community, health and wellbeing, embodied experience and memory. In her work, Mann seeks to offer a vocabulary and context for sharing personal experiences in relation to institutional histories and behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputFilm
Size64 minutes
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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