Ella Littwitz

Uproot / עקורים

What there is/ What is there?

Photo by Richard Duyck



21 x 430 x 5 cm

143 species of seeds, wood


Photo © harlan levey projects

In 1941 Dr. M. Zohary published the book

the weeds of Palestine and their control, “hassadeh”, Tel Aviv


Following the language of Carl Linnaeus, Littwitz raises important questions about contemporary political cleavages.

Botany takes surprising narrative turns when political connotations are considered, particularly in the survey of fauna growing on the borders of Israel. Like the control of occupied territories in the complicated political geography of the

region, the weeds acquire a human quality, representing the “unwanted” biology of the landscape. While Zohary’s original research was intended to serve agricultural development, whether he was conscious of it or not, it directly relates to the notion of creating an organized, anthropologically controlled “civilization” according to the specific understanding of the political actor “civilizing” the area.


The work title Uproot poetically suggests a multiplicity of possible interpretations of the political narratives behind the botanical research. Classification and naming is the ultimate power, as structuralist philosophers and critical theorists demonstrated in their analysis of political regimes and historical processes in the 20th century. Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s analysis of modern ideology refers to the invisible layers of control created by a matrix of hierarchical

knowledge, which, although it is axiomatic, is beyond questioning. While we praise the increasing role of knowledge and enlightenment in societies all around the world, science itself provides a fundamental layer of oppressive unconscious ideological narratives. This is particularly interesting in the context of the immensely complicated flux of cultural, political and civilizational crisis in the modern Middle East, where there is a constant battle over meanings and  appropriations, that define claims of multiple “truths.”


Harlan Levey & Denis Maksimov, ‘Do you speak synergy? exhibition catalogue, Harlan Levey projects February 2016