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Rhine Ecologies - Mannheim - a biochromatic research

For the work "Mannheim - a biochromatic research” we collected in Mannheim over 500 plants. From these plants we extracted the natural colour dyes and converted them to photographic images, (dye residues). The result of this work is a matrix of 504 dye residues, largely from the wild flora, the so-called 'stream valley flora' closely associated with this fluvial environment of the Mannheim riparian areas of the Rhine. We documented many of the plant locations with a camera (Mamiya twin-eye) and, to further visually situate them, took long exposure photographs of the city from important buildings in the city of Mannheim.  

In this way, we gather data about the situation of plants in Mannheim which we can relate. To our earlier work using the same technique in Amsterdam, and try to viisually represent through plants chromology some connections, both cultural and geological that exist between the Netherlands and Germany, The Rhine as a natural phenomenon, an environmental entity, a specific habitat. 

The plant biochemistry (chemistry and biochemistry of plant pigments) and plant-related biochromy by which the plant dyes are produced is unveiled on, and can be observed by, the residues. These vegetable dyes evoke interpretations and associations. This process reveals a universal yet enigmatic language emanating from the plants. Using plant etymology, we want to explore the cultural ties between Germany and the Netherlands at the layer of language.


We also made long exposures (3 hours) and a continuous video of the Rhine upstream from Amsterdam to Mannheim, recording 60 hours. The river connects the Netherlands and Germany not only physically. It is an ancient symbol of a united Europe and is also referred to as the "artery of Europe". For the photographic documentation of the connection between Mannheim and Amsterdam, we spend three days photographing the changing landscape during a trip on a cargo ship on the Rhine. 


With our work we want to project and encourage awareness of the social justice and politics of the right to environment for the whole planet, not only restricted to life forms as we perceive them. A right for the Rhine to follow its course, undamaged to a healthy ocean, unexploited. The philosophy behind our work is an ideal for a future of a multispecies utopia that is all inclusive. 

Our photographic work is all analogue, but with different approaches and various camera’s and techniques (Mamiya C330ProfS, Cambo 4-5inch, Durst enlarger).

Mannheim plantcolour research 2022 part 1 colours empty kopiëren.jpg
Spontaneously occurring plants Mannheim
The view from buildings of significance in Mannheim in an alternative time frame.
District and soil type field notes.
mannheim kaart en districts-1.jpg
Bodentyp Mannheim kopie.jpg
© Arja Hop and Peter Svenson 2013
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