Undoing Earthwriting

Patrick Henry, Kapwani Kiwanga, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, and Eve Tagny
OPTICA Centre d'art contemporain, Montréal

To write upon the earth is to extract, to dispossess, to inscribe violence onto land’s surface through the displacement of soil, rocks, plants, and people. Undoing Earthwriting attends to the themes of plants and land, through an Afro-diasporic lens, specifically because of the charged history that Black subjectivity has with these materials. Plants and soil, most essentially, are life-giving and required for the sustenance and survival of all beings. Conversely, botanic and geologic matter have been cultivated and extracted on a massive scale to create the apparatuses of the plantation and the mine, co-constituted with the disciplining of forced or exploitative human labour as racial capitalism. Through predominantly newly commissioned works, Patrick Henry, Kapwani Kiwanga, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, and Eve Tagny consider the potency of plants as symbols, commodity, and life. Because of the ways in which soil and plants are imbued with complex histories, this exhibition looks to position these materials, alongside blackness, as a set of concrete vectors that create ruptures in space and time in relation to nature.

Photos: Installation view of Patrick Henry and Eve Tagny; Eve Tagny, Mythologies de la valeur; Patrick Henry, Soi-même comme un autre, Eve Tagny; Partition Scores, Eve Tagny; Kapwani Kiwanga, Flowers for Africa:  Ivory Coast, Uganda, Nigeria; Kosisochukwu Nnebe, the seeds we carry (bury thiswhere the one you want to trick walks). Photos by Paul Litherland, courtesy of OPTICA.

Link to the full curatorial text.

Link to review in ESSE by Didier Morelli.