"When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe." – John Muir
Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Queens Botanical Garden
12×12 Project artist in residence Shawn Chua will be performing a durational piece in which he will be sitting on a chair suspended by a web of twine. Over the course of the week, he has been building an environmental installation in which chairs, tables, frame, light bulb, a pair of scissors, words, plants, and himself are entangled in a maze of twine. The ends of each 400 feet twine will be bound to different parts of my body, so that when people navigate through the installation, when they inevitably tug on the strings, it will also be pulling on him. Everything in the room is suspended in the web of twine, balancing precariously, vibrating with the wind and the engagement of participants.
The twine manifests the fibrous connections and kinship between humans and plants, as he enacts a continuity between the environment and himself, embodying the affect of the surrounding plants/objects/persons. The twine is also a continuous line that traverses through the various entities in the ecology, metamorphosizing from the stem of a plant, to the wire of a bulb, to the stroke of a character, to the veins of his body, to the synapses of his brain. It is a network that connects not only the organic to the inorganic but also the material to the immaterial – ideas (in the form of quotes) also belong to this ecosystem, affecting and being affected by the twine.
He is meditating on the animistic belief system of the Ojibwa, who regard plants as "other-than-human persons," using Matthew Hall's ideas of plant personhood to bring plants within the realm of human moral consideration. Hopefully, participants will reflexively become more sensitive to the animate beings of plant-persons and the delicate ecological balance, reflecting on ways to enact relationships of care, humility and responsibility to mitigate our violence in this fragile space.
Ultimately, as he inhabits plant personhood, he questions what it means to be a person – not as an autonomous entity, but as a dependent ecological being.
For more information about the 12×12 Project's artists in residence, please visit http://the12x12project.tumblr.com/artists or contact Project Manager Brendan Foo at foo(at)worldpolicy.org.