LAS Art Foundation

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
Pollinator Pathmaker

20 June 2023 — 01 November 2026

Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

The artist’s living artwork for pollinating insects marks an urgent shift away from human-centred thinking.

Pollinator Pathmaker: Summer Programme

Over the course of summer 2024, LAS Art Foundation presents a four-chapter public programme

LAS is proud to be an International Edition Founding Commissioner of Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg’s Pollinator Pathmaker. The project encompasses a series of living sculptures made of plants, and a participatory campaign. Each sculpture is designed using a custom-build algorithm, which computes garden schemes that support the maximum number of pollinator species possible. The LAS Edition features more than 7,000 plants of 80 different varieties, planted over a 722-square-metre plot. This impactful initiative in interspecies art responds to the alarming decline in pollinating insects, which are vital for many plants to reproduce and ecosystems to survive.

The artwork is the first Pollinator Pathmaker Edition in Continental Europe. It is part of a growing global network of gardens, big and small. To create the LAS Edition, Ginsberg collaborated with scientists at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and local experts to select a palette of plants suitable for Berlin. Each plant was chosen for its benefits to specific pollinators, including bees, butterflies, flies, moths, wasps and beetles. This palette was uploaded to the Pollinator Pathmaker’s algorithm to generate a planting scheme that serves the needs of local pollinators over the seasons. This was translated from the screen into the soil by a team of helpers in May 2023.

At the heart of Pollinator Pathmaker is the timely reimagination of what art can be, and who it is for. By making art for pollinators, Ginsberg emphasises the urgency of moving beyond anthropocentric approaches and aesthetics in the face of the climate and biodiversity crises. Pollinator Pathmaker initiates this shift by promoting empathy for other species, and opening wider conversations about the future of our shared planet.

‘I wanted to make art for pollinators, not about them. Pollinator Pathmaker is an ambitious art-led campaign to make living artworks for other species to enjoy. Can the audience for an artwork be more-than-human? Can art be useful in the ecological crisis?’

– Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg

An artwork for pollinators

Pollinators help trees, crops and many other plants to reproduce by distributing their pollen from flower to flower. They also feed on plant pollen and nectar. Many people associate pollinators with bees, but there are many types. Pollinators in Berlin include butterflies, moths, hoverflies, beetles, wasps, and even flies. Over the last 30 years, many of these insects have experienced sharp decline in numbers. This is due to human activity: habitat loss, pesticides, invasive species and climate change. Pollinator Pathmaker responds to this crisis by recognising that what and how we plant matters. Its beds are designed to bloom as their different pollinators emerge and also to suit a range of insect foraging styles. Over the winter, seed heads and grasses provide habitat for insects too. These insects are the artwork’s primary ‘audience’.

Designing with empathy

Pollinator Pathmaker asks: if pollinators could design gardens, what would they look like? Ginsberg created an algorithm to approach this question. It is based on extensive research into how pollinators sense, and how they source food. Some flying pollinators like bees memorise the locations of the flowers they visit. They are able to calculate and memorise the most efficient route to visit each flower. These paths are called traplines. Other insects like ladybirds pollinate by moving through patches of flowers. The algorithm designs garden schemes with traplines and patches of specific flowers to suit these different behaviours. The resulting gardens look different from ones designed by humans. For Ginsberg, the algorithm is a way to reduce human bias and prioritise the needs of others – a way to design with empathy.

A living sculpture

Ginsberg calls Pollinator Pathmaker a ‘living sculpture’. It is an artwork made of materials that are alive, and its success is dependent on the relationships between different species and their environment. It is unlike most sculptures because it looks different from month to month, as plants and pollinators move through their seasonal cycles. Pollinator Pathmaker is rooted in the artistic traditions of Land Art and social sculpture, which emerged in the 1960s and 70s. In line with both traditions, Pollinator Pathmaker encourages communities to plant artworks that help support species at risk. It shows how art can be made for nonhuman audiences, and have a positive impact on our shared planet.

Create your own Pollinator Pathmaker edition

You can support pollinators by planting your own edition of the artwork at home. The artist has made the planting design tool freely available at pollinator.art.

Partner

Originally commissioned by the Eden Project and funded by Garfield Weston Foundation, the additional founding supporters are Gaia Art Foundation and collaborators Google Arts & Culture.


Artist

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg

Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is a multidisciplinary artist examining our fraught relationships with nature and technology. Through artworks, writing and curatorial projects, Ginsberg’s work explores subjects as diverse as artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, conservation, biodiversity and evolution, as she investigates the human impulse to ‘better’ the world.

In 2017, Ginsberg completed Better, her PhD by practice, at London’s Royal College of Art (RCA), interrogating how powerful dreams of ‘better’ futures shape the things that get designed. She read architecture at the University of Cambridge, was a visiting scholar at Harvard University, Cambridge, Michigan and received her MA in Design Interactions from the RCA.

Ginsberg exhibits internationally, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Centre Pompidou, Paris and Royal Academy of Arts, London. Her work is held in private and museum permanent collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York; Therme Art, Berlin and ZKM Karlsruhe.

Press

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Credits

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg: Pollinator Pathmaker LAS Edition is commissioned by LAS Art Foundation and realised in collaboration with Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.

Originally commissioned by the Eden Project and funded by Garfield Weston Foundation, the additional founding supporters are Gaia Art Foundation and collaborators Google Arts & Culture.



Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg Studio

Designer and Researcher
Iman Datoo
Producer
Ruby Dixon
Executive Producer
Hannah Andrews
Studio Manager
Freire Barnes
With special thanks to
Cecilie Gravesen (Producer, 2020-2022) and Emily Sofaly (Studio Manager, 2021-2022)



LAS

Director
Dr Bettina Kames
Curators
Sophie Korschildgen and Carly Whitefield
Project Manager
Alexis Convento
Producer
Harriet Collins
Head of Marketing and Communications
Felix Thon
Communication Manager
Evelyn Nossol
Social Media Manager
Veronica Jonsson
Documentation
Alice Lamperti
Special thanks to
Amira Gad (Program Director, 2020-2022), Ruth Kissling (Curator, 2018-2022) and Liz Stumpf (Assistant Curator, 2018-2023)



Museum für naturkunde berlin

Director General
Professor Johannes Vogel, Ph D
Project management
Dr Kim Mortega
Project management (parental leave cover)
Yori Schultka
Project coordination
Sylvia Hinz
Research Associate
Frederic Griesbaum
Student assistant
Louisa Ramke

Expert panel

German Wildlife Foundation
Christian Schmid-Egger
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Dr Kim Mortega
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Sarah Darwin
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Julia Rostin
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Frederic Griesbaum

Horticultural Advice

Eden Project
Colin Skelly
Königliche Gartenakademie
Ellen Richter
Königliche Gartenakademie
Sebastian Keller-Lewis
Königliche Gartenakademie
Astrid Torrens
Partners

Media Cooperation

Special thanks to