An evening primrose seedling was tended to over the summer by a special friend. This particular plant was nested in a book titled "Church, State and Freedom" donated graciously to me by the Humber College Library in order for me to conceive this project, on display at L Space gallery at Humber Lakeshore Campus from September-October 2018.
This project was an exploration in reciprocity and the strength of relationships, as plants and books were transferred from hand to hand, place to place. I challenge written histories by returning to oral history and the nature of relationship and story transfer. The strongest medicinal plants can thrive in the most adverse conditions. This was an experiment in whether stories can thrive, and if the tendrils and roots of our stories can liminally inhabit the places where oral histories have been erased. Will they deviate from the vessels where they try to contain us, will we take root anyway? From bark to branch, paper returns back into soil. If placed into the hands of our relations, can we care them back into existence?
Resilient plants is a socially engaged eco-art installation that challenges colonial education models using permaculture to disrupt the function of textbooks and various literature. The forced indoctrination of certain academia and moralistic hegemony continues to exploit social identities that struggle to retain their personhood.
A collection of texts have been made into vessels for growing medicinal, wild and native plants. Grown in various locations and cities, each book poses as a site-specific intervention upon the landscape. Transactional relationships were formed in the development of this project, where acquaintances, communities and friends agreed to be caretakers of the works, offering their time to tend to and lodge the plants in their own living spaces. Some have been placed in discreet locations within conservation sites and parks in Toronto and the GTA. Some were mailed and continue to reside in other countries.
Over the course of time, the texts mutate, becoming undecipherable through soil and water log damage as the plants grow roots within the pages. The books break down, deviate and deform from their original state, with unpredictable, ephemeral outcomes. The process of deterioration and transformation speaks to a wilder nature, resiliently adapting to inhospitable conditions. Sacred Indigenous medicines emerge from cracked city pavement and highway roads filled with wildflowers. Their potency and sacredness protected in secrecy by posing as unassuming weeds. Like these resilient plants, Indigenous resurgence is evidenced in intuitively strong ancestral bonds to land and language that refuses to be forgotten. Resilient plants uses relational aesthetics to create social context around land-based pedagogy (Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society Vol. 3, No. 3, 2014, pp. 1-25 Land as pedagogy: Nishnaabeg intelligence and rebellious transformation, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson link: https://decolonization.org/index.php/des/article/view/22170/17985) providing a space to hold conversations around cultural knowledges and stories, the relationships between the various people who have tended to gardens of plants nested in books, those who have stumbled upon them in the city, and wherever or however these forms and connections may continue to be observed.