Janice Kerbel

Born Ontario, Canada, 1969

Selected exhibitions

2007 Montreal Bienniale, Montreal (group)
Deadstar, Locus+ commission, Newcastle (solo)
2006 Moderna Museet, Stockholm (solo)
Always for Love, Grazer Kunstverein (group)

Janice Kerbel Nicotiana Sylvestris

Janice Kerbel
Nicotiana Sylvestris

© Janice Kerbel


Nick Silver Can’t Sleep is a short play written for insomniacs, originally conceived for radio and performed live for the first time at Tate Britain. It tells a tale of thwarted desire through the voices of six nocturnal plants, whose personalities mirror the botanical traits of their species. Nick Silver (Nicotiana Sylvestris), a nocturnal subtropical perennial in bloom, longs for Cereus Grand (Selenicereus grandiflorus), an exotic climbing perennial who blooms just one night a year. The two plants are destined, botanically, never to be together. The duration of the play, approximately fifteen minutes, reflects the average time it takes to fall asleep.

The play amalgamates botanical research, conducted by Kerbel for previous projects, with insomniacs‘ first-hand accounts sourced through the Evening Standard. Typical of Kerbel’s approach the play’s understated form belies the methodical processes behind it. In previous projects her extended investigations are condensed into graphic works:

Home Climate Gardens 2003, a series of plans for indoor gardens adapted to specific environmental conditions, from a student flat to a launderette, and Deadstar 2006, a plan of a new ghost town oriented to the constellations of stars. Nick Silver Can’t Sleep was commissioned as a new work for Artangel Interactive in 2006. The play was written for radio and was produced and broadcast by BBC Radio 3 – The Verb.