The Collector’s Archive (2013-18) is a body of research into the common plant Perdikaki undertaken by The Collector. The archive includes drawings, specimens, notes and anecdotes as well as reams of captured video footage. The character of the Collector and the archive are components of a greater narrative about the plant perdikaki and its urban environment, depicted in Perdikaki (2019) a film by Catriona Gallagher.
The plant perdikaki (Parietaria judaica / pellitory-of-the-wall) is generally perceived as a weed and is found growing in the cracks of the city. Perdikaki grows prolifically and yet is overlooked: it can be found on every street but the majority of the city’s inhabitants are unaware of its existence. It is dependent on architecture, following the lines of streets and buildings and thriving where there is no one to manage it.
The Collector is a semi-fictional character who has been researching the plant perdikaki and its growth in the city of Athens for the last two years. His compulsion to record how and where the plant grows seems to stem from his fascination with how abundantly but almost invisibly it exists. The Collector observes the instances and variability of the plant’s occurrence in the city through drawings, notes, pressed and live specimens. He emerges almost as an alter-ego whom the artist becomes, recently manifesting more and more as the study deepens.
The artist Catriona Gallagher has here pieced together the Collector’s research, thoughts and observations. After gathering his initial paper-based research, specimens and tools, she has reassembled elements from across the study to create an archive and draw links between his fragmented findings. The process of gradually building the archive brings a closer understanding of the Collector’s obsession. This is an attempt to reclaim the alter-ego and the artefacts of his production, an endeavour to come to terms with the figure of the Collector in the artist’s mind.