country of production
kind of work
With-living: Migrant correlations - Toronto.
With-Living: Migrant correlations
By Alexandra Gelis
Hector Centeno, Riaz Mehmood – programming.
Marinela Piedrahita – Plants expertise and care.
Lorena Salomé – Programming and technology assistant/support.
Ben Grossman – Sound advice/support.
Jorge Lozano – conceptual advice.
Kate Nankervis, Alana Mercury – production support.
Dedicated with much love to the memory of my mother, this is a Lumbalú for you Cristina Lombana.
Curated by Claudia Arana
Part of ArtworxsTO,
Cloverdale Common Cultural Hub at Cloverdale Mal.
Thanks to all the plant lovers who collaborated in the process of research, care of the plants and assembly of the piece. Thank you for trusting me with your plants and stories.
With – living migrant relations is an immersive, interactive, sculptural sound and film installation that invites viewers to interact at multiple levels with the complexities of symbiotic relations of the Migrated Plants focused on the migration to the city of Toronto. Stories in the entanglement between plants, people, soil, bacteria, cells, fungus, become symbiotic with each other in order to continue existing.
“With – living” refers to the Greek words defining symbiosis. While primarily a sound installation, With – living migrant relations features a sculptural component developed throughout four elements: medicinal plants, braids/soil/hair/walking, a large drawing with paper made from migrated plants, and a film made with plants. The installation formally explores the traditional hair braid designs within which enslaved African women enslaved hid their seeds and through which they mapped their routes of escape to San Basilio de Palenque.
By going through the installation, the visitor walks through a series of shapes (roads and roots) made with soil, hair and cables. Thirty-two speakers spread throughout the space resonate with a series of soundscapes resulting from my research of plants and seeds brought by immigrants to the city of Toronto. The visitor is invited to have a closer look at some living medicinal plants by seeing and smelling the plants and getting to know about their medicinal and healing properties and stories. A new set of sounds is triggered throughout the installation is triggered by passing one’s hand between the plant and the light illuminating the plant, sounds connected to the story of the pants. Next to the wall is an old water pump; when it is pumped, a screen on the wall shows a 16mm film made with phytograms of the different plants and contains some plant-specific knowledge.
A book on a corner of the installation invites visitors to leave their own stories. Transparent pages are for tracing plant leaves; matte pages are for writing stories. There is also a chair where visitors can sit and feel the vibration of the soundscapes in their body. The installation is accessible, with spaces for visitors in wheelchairs and chairs with vibrations for hearing-impaired visitors.
With – living migrant relations installation represents the semiotically layered resistant and fluid knowledge implied in the migration, as well as the implementation of medicinal plants to nourish and heal the body, the land, the spirit, the non-living, the non-human elements in solidarity with different ways of being. The work aims looks to re-narrate plants as protagonists that shape human history.
Consequently, With – living migrant relations exhibits plants, soil, bacteria, and migration stories (and their relationship); it reveals a symbio-politics entirely imprinted by resistance in the process of history’s control of the body and plants.
‘Migrated plants’ are how I designate the transfer of seeds from their native environment to another, either by natural action (wind, water, animals) or by human intervention. The idea of plants as political allies is central to my concept of Migrated Plants. In this research-creation interactive installation, I explore the idea of (PTTPC) Plants that have been appropriated as Technologies for Territorial and Population Control. Plants transplanted by those in a position of power to colonize (see my Corridor series) but who also become allies of those in a subordinate position as a form of resistance (see plants and resistance series). This investigation takes into account the fundamental autonomous behaviour of the Migrated plants