United Kingdom

2016

The Empire Remains Shop

Japanese knotweed has been stigmatised in the UK as a ‘non-native’ ‘invasive’, a plant that can allegedly destroy your property.

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) has been stigmatised as ‘the plant that ate Britain’. It has been declared a ‘non-native’ ‘invasive’ plant that can allegedly penetrate through the foundations of your house. However, the definition of ‘non-native’ or ‘invasive’ is in itself a subjective non-scientific taxonomy and there is no rigorous evidence of knotweed being more damaging than other plants when it comes to growing through a crack on a concrete surface. Widespread scaremongering has effectively led to the deflation of property value and the refusal to grant mortgages to homeowners that have found knotweed on their premises, creating a market for expensive eradication programmes.  

In the volcanic soils of Japan’s mountainous regions, Japanese knotweed has flourished for centuries. Poor soil, lava, and ash, lacking the nutrients to support plant life yet providing conditions for Japanese knotweed to thrive where only few survive. In the UK, the uncontrolled growth of Japanese knotweed marked the decline of the copper mines and the industrial cityscape’s transformation into post-industrial relics. Metal pollution in the soil and the multitude of abandoned spaces served as productive ground for the spread of the plant. The Plant That Can Sink Your Mortgage. Cooking Sections, 2016.

The Devaluing Property Real Estate Agency opened at The Empire Remains Shop on Baker Street, London 2016, with a portfolio of toxic assets: properties ‘affected’ by knotweed growth. It expands on previous work The ‘Next “Invasive” Is “Native”‘ to re-think the ‘alien’ as an entity that could construct a new reality and can bring valuable hybridisation over time. Focusing on Japanese knotweed, the project questions the definition of a pristine British landscape and who defines it, as perceptions of ‘native,’ ‘alien,’ and ‘invasive’ shift over time. As part of the one-on-one consultation service, customers of the Devaluing Property Real Estate Agency were able to taste The Plant That Can Sink Your Mortgage Ice Cream.

For consultation on how to devalue property through the agency of a plant and add to the toxic assets portfolio, contact us today.

The Devaluing Property Real Estate Agency replicated the all-too-familiar aesthetics of realtors’ window displays in central London. Hundreds of people stopped by the window at The Empire Remains Shop to look at our assets: some engaged with the topic, others ridiculed it, and others became infuriated with the idea of playing with such a stable pillar of society.
Over the past decade, numerous scaremongering campaigns have portrayed Japanese Knotweed as the UK's most aggressive and invasive plant. The Plant That Ate Britain, The Sunday Times, Joe Wilson, 2014.
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