Lena Violetta is the founder and head of IZMP (Integration Centre for Migrated Plants). In 2017 she graduated from the Department of Digital Arts at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna (AT) and began this long term scientific initiative. The Integration Centre contributes to a successful integration program, providing a set of courses, examinations and validation processes.

In her art works she explores power structures and social patterns using the means of irony and humour. The works, which range from installations and interventions to (sculptural) performances, scrutinise our constructions of what is ‘natural’ and ‘foreign’ or ‘alien’. They employ language in the form of code, text and sound, hacking objects, systems and structures. Part of her practice is the collaborative process. Lena Violetta Leitner works with experts from the most varied fields; networking and support of women is an important concern for her here.

May I ask:

What is your favourite invasive plant and why?

My favourite invasive alien species is without doubt the Japanese knotweed - not because I studied Japanese Studies or because it is in my eyes a very beautiful, strong plant, but it is the first plant I stumbled upon in Graz and cared for in my lab - seeing knots on the roots growing into little plants, it felt like caring for a baby.

May I introduce: Alien - why this title and why did the project interest you?

Planning the project together with Alexandra, we immediately were drawn to the ironic, funny and strange sides of the projects - we both met through our work with invasive alien species. Those aliens were introduced in/directly by humans (since 1492) - here we introduce our aliens now directly to you.

Reality vs. Fiction - how far do you have to go?

A tricky question! I can only say, that my relief comes from the people looking at the work, feeling uncomfortable and asking: But why is this in the museum? It is science!

What would be your ideal next steps or stage for IZMP?

We are currently developping a new social study (Im Glashaus), which should expand from the virtual into the real space. We are interested in researching on how the majority of people evaluate the right of growth of a foreign plant. For which plant would you vote?

Do you remember your first or last encounter with an invasive species?

My little sister invaded our lives when I was 4 and it was the best thing happening to us! Also - I meet the Japanese knotweed nearly every day in the Lab of IZMP - sometimes some grow in the apartment and take over the space. (no travel needed - holidays in the apartment jungle).