Frederik Busch’s German Business Plants looks at the lives of workplace shrubs
A new book peeks into the thoughts of plants in Germany’s company buildings
Have you ever taken a look at that weedy little green fellow in the corner of your office and wondered what’s going through his mind? Well you’re not alone.
Perhaps that droopy-leafed plant that’s always leant up against the window is love-sick; the palm tree by the mirror looks a little arrogant; and that cactus seems like she loves a bit of a boogie. Frederik Busch has been compiling a book that taps into the emotions of Germany’s workplace flora, regardless of the lack of care their office associates inevitably show them. Busch has a sharp eye for capturing each plant’s feelings, providing brief captions for all the office greenery he photographed between 2009 and 2017. With these few words, Busch transforms each image into something entirely different to the banal plants you see at first glance, treating them with an empathy that is surprisingly touching. The book travels from young sprigs to wizened old trees, and shows a genuine concern for their place in the work environment.
The book includes writings from friends and fellow plant-admirers of Busch, Annika Wind and Jacob Birken. In their surprisingly insightful commentaries on these potted coworkers, the topics range from “the socio-political and economic conditions of today’s working people” and their inevitable negligence toward the other living organisms in the office, to the history of “potted plant culture” from the time of the Egyptian civilization. They ask hard-hitting questions about the way we treat our verdant companions: “Why do we put Ingrid on an overheated windowsill and not water her?” or, “Why do we force rubber trees into tight plastic tubs?” Questions you must ask yourself sometimes.
Hopefully, German Business Plants will teach people to show a little more care towards their shrubs. And before you ask, no, there were no plants damaged, rearranged, or moved more than 50cm in the making of this book. Now enjoy, guilt-free.
Frederik Busch lives and works in Hamburg, teaching contemporary art photography at schools and universities, while also pursuing his own creative projects. His work has been exhibited all over Germany, in Copenhagen and in Seoul. Find German Business Plants and further reading on publisher Kehrer Verlag’s website.
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Text: Louis Harnett O’Meara