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Friendly Enemy – Knotweed message (28 June–12 July 2016)

Friendly Enemy is an ongoing project from the Re-generacija collective, which explores potential ways to utilize Japanese knotweed, one of the most invasive plants in the world, from an innovative standpoint.

The Project has two parts. The first is dedicated to the design of the project’s message, via hand-made paper used to make posters and silkscreening. They have invited designers and illustrators David Krančan, Mina Arko and Matija Medved to contribute – together with the hosting team member Gaja Mežnarić Osole – their original artwork that highlights the issues that come with this unwanted, but also useful and edible plant. The second part was realized in a two-week exhibition, which took place in the ‘open studio’ Craftsman Workshop, Vevče.

Through the “Knotweed Message”, we wanted to highlight the issue of non-native invasive plants in an unconventional way. By using poster as a primary medium, it allowed for us to spread our message through physically on paper, as well as digitally, by placing the image online.

The members of Re-generacija spent one month producing the posters. Everything was done by hand, from gathering the plants around the workshop, milling the raw material, to eventually making and printing the paper.

Spreading a positive message begins with the paper, as a major part of the production includes the elimination of the Japanese Knotweed.

Series cards were designed using the traditional method of inserting a paper seeds between two layers of the paper pulp. The card can be planted directly into the ground and in this way we use the plant to create room for biodiversity and local vegetation.

This design-based research project combines various disciplines and explores the issues presented by the Japanese knotweed in an imaginative way. Methods used range from an engaged product design, to technological research, graphic design and conservation of cultural heritage.

The Friendly Enemy project is raising awareness about the issues caused by invasive plant species and by introducing new content, it also promotes and revives the craft of hand papermaking, which is slowly fading away.

While we hosted the workshop, there was also an open studio where visitors could come, view the poster exhibition, as well as take a tour around one of the last remaining hand papermaking workshops left in Slovenia. There was also the possibility for guests to create their own knotweed paper by themselves on site.

All posters and cards were marked with ‘certified’ in Slovenian and English, specifying the material used for paper making. These pieces are available at the International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC), Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana (MAO) and DobraVaga.

David Krančan: Kaj se skriva v japonskem dresniku? (2016)
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Matija Medved: When life gives you Japanese knotweed, make Japanese knotweed tea (2016)
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Mina Arko: Okolje se spremeni, ko spremeniš odnos do njega (2016)
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Gaja Mežnarić Osole: Plant of the Year (2016)
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The project was supported by Ministry of Culture of The Republic of Slovenia.