Informed by memory, botany and ecology, my practice employs the mediums of drawing, collage, installation and video.
Drawing and collage are the foundation of my practice and influence my sculptural and video interventions. I gather knowledge on form through drawing and when the narrative demands extension, I translate the ideas into installation or video based works.
This is reflected in my ongoing series, Drawing Breath (2012-) which explores organic matter and the human relationship to it, through drawings, watercolors and collage. These meditations led me to experiment form further and culminated into Currencies of Absence (2016), an installation that investigates the exploitation of the planet’s finite resources, the construction of scarcity through the attribution of economic value to these resources. The work draws attention to the man-made artifice that influences and defines our perception of the imbalance between nature and commodification.
My preoccupations with the study of plants and soils and the proposition of a non-human witness push me to further examine traditional lines of inquiry on the biological ideas of sentience, neophyte, native and naturalization. These concepts that pertain to science, particularly native and naturalization are frequently used in geo-political discourse, to form vocabularies of Othering. Concurrently, I question the documentation, organization and dissemination of biological knowledge within the rigid didactics of natural history institutions which determine what we refer to as wilderness. Specifically, the constructed boundary between weeds and cultivated ornamental species. I’m interested in how this construct – weed – is premised on what can resist man’s effort to control nature. In my more recent work, I draw parallels of my botanical research with decolonization. This is manifested in two works in particular:
Styx (2020) – An installation made of found objects and based on blueprints made by the Elf petroleum company in the 1980s. They represent the sites of crude oil extraction throughout West Africa – namely Angola, Congo and the Republic of Chad.
The title refers to the river Styx, death and the use of currency as safe passage into the depths of the Underworld. The work draws analogies on extractivism, slave labor and the civil wars that Elf manipulated to its advantage, fueling the neocolonialism that the French State profited from.
Styx is the first finished work of a new series that comprises of 6 other blueprints that are currently works in progress.
Appropriation Disinformation – Nature and the Body Politic (2019) is a work specifically made for the Dhaka Art Summit 2020 – Seismic Movements. The works were placed in the Colonial Movements section of the Summit. The maps and statistics that form the basis of the 14 collages are sourced from the Larousse Atlas Politique et Économique (1950). They are effectively lists of extractivism, however they remain silent on the violence inflicted upon the environment, on modern day slavery and on the displacement of indigenous communities. I chose to examine this book as a tool of Capitalism and a ledger of systemic violence. These collages are not only a representation of what has been forgotten, buried or annihilated; they also stand in for a subconscious that is mutant and diseased. In its soft sensuality and secretions, the work attempts to trigger a visceral memory of a situated environment that existed before it was reduced to highly mobile commodities.
I use film as a language to create abstraction and subtlety around ideas that would manifest as too literal with other mediums.
Cadence (2018) – The Lac Léman has been central force in my decision to live and work in Geneva. My relationship to the lake borders on obsession and compels me to immerse myself and scrutinize its waters repeatedly over time. Cadence is a contemplation on this lake and its vegetation. An abstraction on solitude and death. Deracinated from the bed of the lake, the errant plants float on its surface, struggling to live, in the hope of sinking to the bottom and root themselves again in order to survive. Paradoxically, the human swimmers that religiously immerse themselves in the waters, do so for the purpose of shedding their emotional burden and feeling the rootlessness that water provides. The sensation felt while floating in the water is akin to la petite mort. Cadence attempts through video, to translate these simultaneous sensory states of exhilaration and the mildly unsettling anxiousness of being out of one’s natural environment.
While articulating the idea of environmental justice and more importantly nature for the sake of nature, over sustainable development; my practice aims to subvert or disarm the false binaries we have been conditioned to, through the proposition of queer ecology.