This piece started as a result of a lot of reading I did over the summer on Anarchist politics,
mainly a book by David Graeber, called Fragments Of An Anarchist Anthropology. Which started me thinking about and questioning the idea of ‘no states, no borders’. I wanted to created a piece that embodied the ideals and values of the subject I was learning about. I asked friends who were holidaying in various countries over the summer to bring (smuggle) back some soil and I also brought back soil from two of the countries I visited this year. This was to be an act of defiance against laws that forbid you to take soil across international borders. Perhaps you could call it a direct action. As with most of my practice
I had no real idea of where I was going with this I just wanted to experiment with ideas and different avenues of thought. I eventually decided upon the idea of planting a chilli seed in the soil and growing it in to a plant so that in essence the plant itself would embody the ideals of a socially autonomous rejection of state and capitalist structural violence.
While researching about political art I came across the term ‘reactionary art’ art that is created as a reaction to a political situation, such as the work of Santiago Sierra, who’s work highlights immigration, poverty and labor within the capitalist structure. Sierra’s work is a huge influence on me in particular the work he created for the 2003 Venice Biennale where he bricked up the entrance to the spanish pavilion leaving only the back entrance, where entry was allowed only to those who could show a valid spanish passport to the uniformed guards, which falls within the same context as the work I was trying to created, touching on issues of borders and immigration control.
This piece has been a real journey, the work has developed and evolved a broad array of naratives from being an act of defiance to embodying ideals I was learning about to actully teaching me something itself. With this said it wasn’t always plain sailing. From the moment of developing the idea of growing a chilli plant from the soils I was doubtful about how it could be received. Was growing a chilli plant enough ? But I think that self doubt can be a good thing it helps you think criticaly about your work and forces you to ask yourself questions about it. At first the idea that the plant looked healthy was really important to me as I wanted to show that the idea had worked and the soils had grown a healthy plant but when the leaves started to fall off and the plant started to shut down for the winter it was a lot less aspetically pleasing. I began to wonder if I had taken to bigger risk by relying on a living plant and if my project had failed. When I came back from the Venice Biennale I was feeling really motavatied and I started to really involve myself in the piece again whilst playing with it I noticed that when I took it out of the pot the soil had moulded itself to the shape of the pot and was held like this by the roots which contriditry to how the plant itself looked were as strong as ever I began to think about this and look at it like a metaphor for how we often look at countries and judge them soley on the actions of their govenments when really a government does not define a country the comunitys within it do and they are whats important. I feel this piece has brought itself to a conclusion really well in the fact that it has now helped me to understand something. I feel this work was a logical step for progression in my practice but unlike some of my earlier works didn’t have the aspect of audience participation to create the work, which is something I would maybe want to reintruduce to my next piece.