The contrast of manufactured, sterilized materials against organic matter in this installation works well to translate the cultural dissonance pertaining to misconceptions of ageing. Presenting fetishized shrines (found discarded objects) potentially evokes a sense of corporeal memory reverting to organic remains through their decaying core.
Since I am working with living matter, the use of a green house and watering devices become necessary tools to foster plant growth. Because my goal is to let the viewer experience the intrinsic rhythm of the space, I looked for tools, objects, and components that would allude to the harvesting process, without the presence of the artist-maker.
The need to research how to actively engage participants in a dialogue regarding old age to challenge misconceptions about women’s negative bodies prompted this work. By creating an atmosphere that facilitates gatherings and intimate sharing, The Saprotrophic Body serves as a platform to raise social consciousness and for potential transformation. Closer to Joseph Beuys’ or Thomas Hirschhorn’s demarche, than to that of Rirkrit Tiravanija, my work assumes the risk of attempting to re-define constructs regarding ageing. Hence, instead of offering merely a greeting space that produced human interactions that risked being insignificant, the installation refers to my ideal of socially engaged art. The multifaceted interface of the social, political, ethical, and aesthetic serves as a catalyst for change in this model.
A germinating inkling that had been lingering in the shadows for a while resurfaced. Born from the need to communicate how older bodies are still sources of renewal, wonder, and agency, I once had the whimsical idea of generating and harvesting food from my sculptures to feed the audience. Reading Nicolas Bourriaud’s essay on Relational Aesthetics (2002) provided guidance and conceptual grounds to materialize this encounter with viewers. From experiencing the space by walking through it to then sitting by the gisant and eating a meal cooked with produce harvested from the sculpture (see Phagein), this installation proposes a “period of time to be lived through, like an opening to unlimited discussion” (Bourriaud 2002). Transforming viewers into participants unsettle their accustomed passivity and nurture forms of exchange where the installation became a living, breathing platform for encounters and discussions.