Helene Schmitz’s series ‘Kudzu Project’ – poetic expression of the eerie beauty in the fascinated phenomena of nature that are beyond our grasp. Capturing the magnificent ‘sculptures’ of Kudzu plant, one of the most invasive plant on earth, to question the constant endeavours of humanity to control the balance in nature and the ever-changeable character of the viewpoint on the reality – is it our friend or enemy now?
“I see photography as a way of dealing with time and transience – which is a fundamental theme in my images. The medium of photography also has an interesting connection to these concepts”
The series was shot in the summer of 2012 in Georgia and Alabama where the Kudzu plant has already transformed vast areas into apocalyptic landscapes.
Kudzu plant is native to Eastern and Southeastern Asia, but in 1876 it was introduced to the US as a garden novelty in the World’s Fair Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. With its beautiful leaves the plant enchanted the hearts of the Americans and was used mainly for decorative purposes. It was not a threat until the 1930s and 1940s when was rebranded as a way for farmers to stop soil erosion in the South — in Alabama, in Georgia and in the Mississippi. As dust storms damaged the prairies, Congress declared war on soil erosion and enlisted kudzu as a primary weapon. Kudzu seedlings were grown in nurseries by the newly created Soil Conservation Service and the farmers were paid high wages to sow topsoil with the invasive vine. However it felt so comfortable in the warm wet climate that quickly spread and conquered the new environment (read the whole article about ‘The True Story of Kudzu, the Vine That Never Truly Ate the South’ in Smithsonian Magazine)