The Plant Functional Genomics Research Group collaborates with Kim Schoen, a video and photography artist, who is developing her residency at the AiR 351 art organization.

Established in Cascais, AiR 351 is an art organization that promotes, among other initiatives, art residencies. This organization has a special programme, which goes behind the typical residency scheme. Luísa Especial, Co-founder and Artistic Director, explains what is the difference: “Our role is not only to provide regular critical feedback but also, according to each resident´s profile and interest, to establish meaningful connections and collaborations between them and local interlocutors.” Additionally,  AiR 351 has been working to create grant opportunities for artists and curators by establishing partnerships with sponsors and applying to public funding.

And this was how Kim’s story started… According to Luísa Especial: “We launched an international call for a Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento (FLAD) / AiR 351 grant and Kim was the recipient.” The Artistic Director continues by explaining how this approach is so important:  “This is a way of bringing wonderful artists to work here and spending a considerable amount of time to create links and develop work here. (…) Many times what happens is that they come back and follow up what they started here. This meets our main goal: to expand critical mass.”

After being awarded with the grant, Kim Schoen started to design her artistic project and the contacts with AiR started even before she came to Portugal. Kim wanted to work with plant scientists from a university as her project is focused on artificial flowers. The AiR reached BioISI and the «deal was closed». Kim tells us what is her project all about: “(…) I wanted to work with the plant biology department at The University of Lisbon to better understand the variable rates of decay of natural and petroleum-based plants [i.e. made of plastic]. Furthermore, I wanted to do some filming of plastic, silk, and natural flowers under the microscopes to see more clearly the differences in their structure and form.”

Figure | Magnifying observation prepared by Kim Schoen [courtesy of the artist]

At the moment, the artist has already made a few visits to BioISI PFG Labs (at Ciências ULisboa) – where she had the opportunity to talk to Rita Teixeira and perform some microscopic and magnifying observations of artificial plants (e.g. silk, plastic,  made from different materials and also of natural ones. The collaboration seems to be a fruitful one so far, as the artist refers that: “I have felt extremely welcomed by the department. They have been excellent hosts, educators and collaborators.” Luísa Especial reinforces by saying that: “For artists whose practice is research based this is the kind of context that has a big impact in what they are able to create in terms of narrative, in terms of findings and in terms of visual imagery. (…) And we are very grateful for that, because opening these doors and engaging in this type of discussions and exchange can have incredible results. What Kim is gathering over there will have results that will be later on disseminated elsewhere, every time she presents this new video, in different venues and countries. Promoting this shared knowledge is very valuable.”

Know more about Air 351 residency programme here.

Get to know Kim Schoen’s work:

Website |


Current & Recent Exhibitions