Plant Fetish - feature image

I am a solo artist and have made numerous shows, the latest of which is called Plant Fetish. It is an autobiographical show! How did I develop a plant fetish you may well ask. Well, it kind of happened ‘organically’ if you pardon the pun.

Chanje Kunda - Plant Fetish

The truth is, after years of touring, I was struggling with burn out, and suffering from stress and anxiety. I decided to take some time out, and was on the waiting list for some therapy. One day, I decided to go to the art gallery and on my way out, I was browsing the gallery shop and happened on a book called Plant Style. Reading the introduction, it said that Plants are an inexpensive way to decorate your home, but the best thing about plants is that they reduce stress, increase well being and because they are beautiful, they bring you joy. 

I bought the book and then went nuts buying plants in a bid to save myself from my impending demise. I bought massive monsteras, scintillating snake plants, dramatic dragon plants, tropical Yukkas, all sorts of exotic plants. Being at home was like a tropical paradise, like being in the Garden of Eden surrounded by lush vegetation. I realised our relationship with nature is so important, people worry a lot about material things, they forget about what is beautiful in this world, and that is nature: things grow and blossom.

Chanje Kunda - Plant Fetish

I also often found distraction browsing the internet. One evening I randomly found out that some women in Mexico, who were fed up with men, were getting married to trees. Now the trees are not very talkative, but they are tall, do great things for the planet and are renowned for their wood! The women were very happy. As my own love life read like a series of unfortunate events, I could relate. I surrendered to the Mexican women’s notions and fell in love with plants. 

However, on social media, I keep seeing people posting pictures of their adventures in far flung places, or announcing their engagements or having a raucous time with friends, and I was just at home with my plants. I felt like everyone lived a more adventurous life than me.

Chanje Kunda - Plant Fetish

But then I thought, well I might not be in a tropical location, but I do have some tropical plants. So I decided to take pictures of myself with my tropical plants and post them on social media. To my surprise, the pictures were very popular and I hadn’t realised plants were trending. I felt a lot better about my life!!! The book was right. As the pressures of life I had previously felt drifted away, it made me feel ready to perform again.

I thought maybe I could do a performance with my plants. So I applied to a contemporary performance festival called ‘Emergency’ to present an experimental performance of my show Plant Fetish. My application was successful and I took ALL my plants to a gallery space and did a 3 hour durational performance with my plants. All my plants received a lap dance from me. The show was very popular and there were people queuing outside the gallery space to see the performance. I had a great time.

Chanje Kunda - Plant Fetish

From there I decided to develop my Plant Fetish show further to include more narrative about my journey with plants and present it at the PUSH festival in January 2019. There were reviewers there and the British Theatre Guide said the show was ‘strikingly successful’. I was delighted. I went on to win a Slate Commission and the Arts Council of England funded the full scale production, which premiered at HOME Mcr in November 2019. I was due to do a UK tour of the show in Spring 2020 and Autumn 2020. My spring tour has been cancelled due to the pandemic, which is disappointing, but the shows will be rescheduled in due course.

What next?

Since my plant fetish tour got cancelled, myself and so many performance artists are in limbo. Yet what seems to be concerning most people, surprisingly, is toilet roll. People in France are stock piling cheese, people in the Netherlands are queueing round the block to stockpile cannabis in case the cafes close. I am not condoning either. But it amuses me that people in the UK care most about toilet roll!



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So, I just wanted to have a creative response to people prioritising toilet roll by making a parody. In a break from my usual plant based content, I decided to do a toilet roll series! This is a comedic response to the absurd. In doing this response, I further saved my own sanity. I think both having a sense of humour, being creative, and having plants are a great safeguard against losing your S… sense of equilibrium 

But for me, falling in love with plants really did bring me joy. I defied myself to be depressed in such beautiful surroundings. It was not possible. When I woke up to my alarm, I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was a beautiful flowering plant. It immediately put a smile on my face and lifted my spirits. I don’t need a bigger house or an impressive spouse, I just need a harem of tropical plants! I am not ruling out a relationship with a human being; I am open to being polyamorous with my plants.

You can find out more about my work and my shows on my website or follow me on social media Instagram @chanje.kunda.

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