kristen s. wilkins

The Plantago Compendium*: Knowledge of a Simple

(*a collection of concise but detailed information about a particular subject, especially in a book or other publication)

For several years, I have been aesthetically, critically, and practically engaged with a banal yet ubiquitous plant found in most regions of the world including my backyard, that has been continuously documented for two thousand years. This compendium indexes the breadth and depth of human knowledge through the literal and metaphysical spread of this simple herb, including the charged and politicized nature of the medical, societal, and religious functions of such plants.

Untitled #001

Left: “Plantain with Metamorphosis of the Bright-Line Brown-Eye” from Der Raupen Wunderbare Verwandlung und sonderbare Blumennahrung [The Wondrous Transformation of Caterpillars and their Strange Diet of Flowers], by Maria Sibylla Merian, 1679 CE; watercolour and gouache over transfer print on vellum; Frankfurt am Main, Städel Museum

Right: “plantagoLumen006”, July 2020; Fresh Plantago leaf, 2 hour exposure on silver paper, undeveloped and underfixed; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #003

Left: Folio 164 from “La geste ou histore du noble roy Alixandre, roy de Macedonne”, 15th century; translated from a story of Alexander the Great by the order of John Burgundy; Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France; Département des Manuscrits, Francais 9342

Right: “PlantagoLumens010”, July 2020; Dried Plantago leaves, 3 hour double exposure on silver paper, undeveloped and underfixed; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A .

Untitled #004

Left: Folio 49 from Liber Plantis, 15th century (Italy); Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Hebreu 1199

Right: “PlantagoLumens001”, July 2020; Fresh Plantago leaf, Plantago lanceolata flowers, and water drops; 2 hour exposure on silver paper, undeveloped and underfixed; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #005

Left: “The Great Piece of Turf”, Albrecht Dürer, 1503 CE; Watercolor, pen, and ink; Albertina, Vienna, Austria

Right: “Weed-lumen”, August 2019; Fresh Plantago major leaves and flowers, 1 hour exposure on silver paper, undeveloped and underfixed; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #008

Left: Folio 39r from ‘Codex Bellunensis’, 1400-1440 CE; London, British Library, Additional 41623

Right: “plantago-dryfull_002”, October 2020; Press-dried Plantago plant, with Epson V550 Photo scanner; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #010

Left: Folio 128v, 15th century; Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Latin 17844

Right: “_V9A5583”, September 2020; Canon 5D Mark III, ISO 250, f-8 1/20th of a second exposure; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #011

Left: Folio 85a from Kitāb al-Ḥašāʾiš fī hāyūlā al-ʿilāg al-ṭibbī, compiled in Uzbekistan, February 1083 CE, derived from the De materia medica (50-70 CE) by Pedanius Dioscorides; Leiden, Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden Or. 289

Right: “_V9A5606”, September 2020; Canon 5D Mark III, ISO 250, f-7.1 1/5th of a second exposure; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #012

Left: Folio 24r, 800-900 CE; Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Latin 6862

Right: “_V9A5756”, October 2020; Canon 5D Mark III, ISO 250, f-2.8 1/80th of a second exposure; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #015

Left: Page 4v from Macer floridus de viribus herbarum, 1506 CE, text attributed to Odo von Mueng, 1065 CE; Printed in Geneva; München, Bayerische StaatsBibliothek

Right: “ptantago-polaroid_007”, September 2020; Fujifilm FP-100C45 (expired) with a 1947 Speed Graphic camera, 1/50th of a second exposure, 3 minute development; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #016

Left: Folio 29v from Vienna Dioscurides, Commissioned for Byzantine Princess Anicia Juliana, Constantinople, 512 CE; Attributed to Crateuas, image possibly copied from first century B.C.E. herbal; Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Codex Vindobonensis Med. Gr. 1

Right: “Leaves046”, June 2020; Fresh Plantago lanceolata leaf, with Epson V550 Photo scanner; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #018

Left: Page 97 from 本草綱目 (Ben cao gang mu), by Shizhen Li, China, 1603 CE, derived from the De materia medica (50-70 CE) by Pedanius Dioscorides

Right: “_V9A5627”, September 2020; Canon 5D Mark III, ISO 250, f-7.1 1/13th of a second exposure; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #019

Left: Page 191 from Der Fruchtbringenden Geselschaft Nahmen, Vorhaben Gemaehide und Woerter by Matthaeus Merian, Franckfurt am Mayn, 1646 CE

Right: “plantago-lum 8-20_009”, August 2020; 1947 Speed Graphic camera, 3 hour exposure on silver paper, undeveloped, scanned and digitally interpreted; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #020

Left: Folio 169 from Liber Plantis, 16th century; Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Français 12322

Right: “PlantagoLumens_07-17_001”, July 2020; Fresh Plantago leaf and seeds, 2 hour exposure on wet silver paper, undeveloped and underfixed; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

Untitled #027

Left: “Physician gives woman plantago potion for afterbirth”, Folio 13r, 13th century; Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, ÖNB 93

Right: “Leaves010”, June 2020; Fresh Plantago lanceolata, with Epson V550 Photo scanner; Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

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