On the Tip of the Tongue

Plant prints, copper pipes, UV light, two channel video (05:00)

In the work On the Tip of the Tongue, Franzén takes a closer look at the history of Dieffenbachia, a plant commonly known as Dumb Cane. The sap inside the cane and the leaves of the plant is toxic. If it comes in contact with the tongue it causes an immediate swelling that prevents speech, thereof the name ‘dumb cane’. Dieffenbachia is native to the Caribbean where its speech inhibiting properties was used as a means of torture by planters in the slave era. Today, Dumb Cane is one of the most common houseplants in Sweden and elsewhere but the history behind its name is little known.

On the Tip of the Tongue was shown in the exhibition If You Listen I Will Tell (2019). The plant prints are made of sap from pressed Dieffenbachia leaves and becomes visible through UV plant lighting in the dark installation.

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