I Contain Multitudes
Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery
January 15 - February 20, 2021
“Vestibule (between the teeth, lips, and cheeks)”, 2021.
Glass, screenprint, archive images, text from Sweetness and Power by Sidney Mintz and Intimacies of Four Continents by Lisa Lowe, vacuum seal, sugar, tea, SCOBY, time
40 x 19 x 19 inches
A vestibule by anatomical definition is a chamber or a channel opening into another. The title of the piece Vestibule (between the teeth, lips, and cheeks) refers to an orifice of our body where objects and subjects, food and flesh enter and exit, where the erotic and violent act of consumption is enacted, performed, and staged: the mouth. A site that opens and closes, reveals and blurs the epidermal, microbial, and social boundaries between the self and the other, our mouths have generated a locus of anxieties, only further intensified during COVID-19. Kyla Wazana Tompkins writes in Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the 19th Century that the mouth is “a doorway into the consuming body… a site of biopolitical intensity in the United States”. How does the mouth become a vestibule where we actively shape and materialize our corporeal body, where ingestion and edibility become infused with racial embodiment? How does it link the social and the biological, inscribed with marks of race, sexuality, and colonialism?
Inside the glass vestibule are various ingredients, colonial archives, postcards, and excerpts from critical essays — Sweetness and Power by Sydney Mintz and Intimacies of Four Continents by Lisa Lowe — that explore SCOBY, sugar, tea, and time. When these ingredients are fermented together, they transform into kombucha, a probiotic tea. Over time, Mother SCOBY will devour and metabolize the colonial archives, one of which is the Great Britain Colonial Office Correspondence that notes how Asian indentured labor will help suppress Black insurrections in the West Indies and further intensify the sugar plantation system. In actively fermenting the ingredients and agitating the materials, Vestibule (between the teeth, lips, and cheeks) echoes the violent act of ingestion but also speculate on the possibilities of fermentation, rot, and decay breaking down, soaking up, and digesting toxicity.
Final Closing Program at NXTHVN, Material Intimacies
"I Contain Multitudes", installation at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, 2021
“scoby sugar tea time”, 2021.
Care package: screenprinted mailer, text, postcards, twine, cheesecloth, annotated essays (Sweetness and Power by Sidney Mintz, Intimacies of Four Continents by Lisa Lowe, Symbiotic Planet by Lynn Margulis), sugar, tea, SCOBY, time
25 9 × 6 ¼ × 4 inches