La Montagna in Movimento (NYC)

“Artificial gardens … now strike us as not at  all artificial, since they have been made ‘natural’ by time.”
From Detached Sentences on Gardening, Ian Hamilton Finlay

“The worker can create nothing without nature, without the sensuous external world. It is the material on which his labor is realized, in which it is active, from which, and by means of which it produces.”
Karl Marx

Commissioned by Sali e Tabacchi Journal, La Montagna in Movimento/The Mountain in Motion was conceived as a response to the form and function of traditional alpine vessels grolle and coppe dell’amicizia, traditional ritually convivial objects, and the theme of the latest issue, Biophilia. Embodying the complex and tentacular ecologies of the landscape, the sculptural and edible work considers flora and fauna as fundamentally relational, looking to rituals as a natural outcome of interfacing with nature and a remarkable aspect of ecologies of labor. Cultivation is relational, but implicit in cultivation is an actor with motives that may very well undermine true conviviality (that is not to say a frictionless one). Mutual domestication and taming, therefore plays a large role in human<>nature relations. Rituals become a mode of processing, not unlike those used in food preparation or cooking, that raise questions of origin, agents and outcomes of transformation, and production within constraints. The work employs materials and ingredients that complicate clean categorizations of original/indigenous/wild and new/assimilated/domesticated. Beeswax, potatoes, butter, wild-leavened bread, chestnuts, coffee, and others intermingle in forms that derive from vernacular alpine architecture, synanthropic plants and animals, and geologic formations. The installation explores a collapse of time and hierarchy (ie food chain), complicating agency of actors and the acted upon (the eaters the the eaten) and inherent is an interest in relationships that reach through deep time - an accumulated, inherited, layered history that re-presents flora and fauna from ancient sea creatures to dairy cows.

Video and stills by Kayhl Cooper