‘Mid the sharp short emerald wheat, scarce risen three fingers well, The wild tulip, at end of its tube, blows out its great red bell Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children to pick and sell.’
ROBERT BROWNING, Up at a Villa—Down in the City
Kumi Hiroi is interested in the human activities that are contradictory to the system of capitalism. Our economic activities, based in capitalism, have destroyed the environment for short-term profits and created environmental issues on a global scale. The question is do sustainable developments make it possible for humans to coexist with earth?
She is fascinated by the journey of tulips from bulbs in the ground to the flowers in the vase from both an economical and an historical perspective. These bulbs are perfectly adjusted for human convenience and are cultivated throughout the world, especially in the Netherlands. The bulbs – which caused Tulip Mania, one of the first speculative bubbles in 17th century –have been traded with many countries, including Japan, over the course of their history. The tulip industry itself grasped the experience and knowledge of tulip production and has created a system where they arrive to the consumer in the most economical efficient ways. During the tulip mania, it’s told a rare tulip bulb was more expensive than the price of an Amsterdam canal house. Now one tulip bulb cost 0.2 euro for us.
We are attracted by the beauty of flowers. Although, it remains to be seen if the beauty and emotions of those flowers justifies the environmental issues they cause or the issues brought by the global economic system in which we live?
She intends to reveal the complexity of the relationship between humans and tulips in our society by connecting stories of individuals who have worked in the tulip industries throughout history in Japan and the Netherlands. As the result of the research, she will produce an installation ‘Tulip mania’.