I Can’t Even Make a Flower

by Kaisa Illukka

We work precisely and pedanticly,
Some of us have hands, some have proboscis and pollen basketed legs.
Our eyes are different but beautiful.
All of us have needles and focused minds.
We like hexagons.
In summertime we want – unless we are actually programmed for it! – to hang around with our flower companions.
We have all educated each others for a very long time, thus, can we even imagine our eyes, our minds, poetry or essence without flora!?
Some of us have habituated themselves to this coexistence, grown up together.
But how are we different? Presumably you have no emotions towards us, but your existence depends on our feelings. We can only regret the case.
It is not actually your core business, but could you help to develop our affects, too?

The project began in Helsinki spring 2016, continued in Rome during summer 2018 to go again in summer 2019. In the project, bees are followed across Europe to trace them in cultural history and in present ecology. In addition to the issue of ecological bee loss the project focuses on a related problem: the bee decline in human mind and culture.

A primate is embroidering slow portraits of Apoidea and their favourite plants that she has met. She is making a European nature-cultural bee-map. Embroidery is a slow, tranquil, meditative and a bit trickier technique than some other image-making. It has a needle as a tool, reminding of bees, thread comes from plant fiber. The chosen flowers and insects have lived at some meaningful, perhaps historical spot. Thus, natural and cultural time are juxtaposed and intertwined; a single bee may live a summer and plants take over historical sites.


The embroidery technique requires bowing and stinging. A primate cannot create a real bee or a flower. Duration of a performance and slow embroidery, or the modern era to make bees extinct are short compared to evolution: how long it took to finish these creatures? To create a human skill takes time and duration, both cultural and individual. What are our skills compared with skills of bee?


I Can´t Even Make a Flower took place at Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden, during Melliferopolis Fest in 2016 and in Roma, where Kaisa Illukka was an artist-in-residence at Villa Lante in summer 2018.
Melliferopolis Fest
Featured photo: Kaisa Illukka