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Plant Blindness refers to the term defined by Wandersee & Schussler in 1998 as the inability to notice plants in one's surroundings and recognise their importance or appreciate their unique biological features
Installation view: Nation of Plants at Doha Expo

In his latest exhibition, Nation of Plants, on view at the Doha Expo in Qatar through March 28, 2024, botanist and Professor at the University of Florence, Stefano Mancuso, delves deep into the concept of plant blindness.


Produced in collaboration with Red Joint Films and Balich Wonder Studio, the exhibition includes eight immersive environments that feature engaging films and interactive installations demonstrating the intelligence of plant life and its essential role on our planet. As we step into Plant Blindness, our animal-centric view of the world is challenged by prompting us to ponder why we overlook plants and their extraordinary abilities in the first place.

Installation view: Nation of Plants at Doha Expo

This bias is widespread and has been studied by various experts from the fields of botany and biology. Mancuso alone addresses this oversight in several of his books, including Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence; The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behaviour; and The Incredible Journey of Plants. One of the main findings he attributes to this is the fact that plants are sessile, in other words, immobile or fixed to one place. Far from reducing their complexity or capabilities, this feature makes them more sophisticated in sensing than animals and, according to Mancuso, highly intelligent organisms.  

Installation view: Nation of Plants at Doha Expo

Through the Nation of Plants exhibition, the different rooms expose the astounding features of plant intelligence and their ability to learn and communicate with their environment. The information in the exhibition proves how surprising it is to have such widespread ‘plant blindness’ in light of their complexity and capabilities. No less importance is given to the fact that they make up the majority of our planet’s ecosystem, literally embodying the ‘engine of life’ on Earth.

As urbanisation continues to accelerate, the issue of plant blindness serves as a timely reminder that we must dismantle the current human-centric perspective of nature and move towards one that is non-hierarchical and inclusive of living organisms in developing cities. Nation of Plants takes the conversation further and suggests that we must reinstate plants at the centre stage of architecture and urban policies to ensure future planetary health and well-being. Visitors of the exhibition may leave agreeing that this position is no longer as radical as it once seemed.

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