THE COMMUNITY IS NOT A HAPHAZARD COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUALS
This is part of the Art Museum’s ongoing series of Virtual Spotlights centred on the upcoming exhibition Plastic Heart: Surface All The Way Through. The exhibition is organized by the Synthetic Collective and opens on September 8, 2021.
Developed by artist Christina Battle, THE COMMUNITY IS NOT A HAPHAZARD COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUALS is a participatory project that considers the ways that plants help us to remediate land impacted by the petrochemical industry while also wondering how we might support them in return. Participants are invited to think together (at a distance) through strategies for working with plants in ways that are more supporting: that move beyond thinking about them as a “technology” performing a task, but rather as collaborators. Calling for a recalibration of perspective, the project invites participants to consider how, instead of relying on plants to do all of this work for us, we might in turn offer aid by supporting their ability to grow into the future.
Upon committing to participate in the project via the website, participants will be sent a Natural Plant Community Toolkit in the mail. Each toolkit contains a custom-made package including seeds that have the potential to facilitate phytoremediation in sites contaminated with Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons. By signing up to the project, participants commit to planting their seeds in a location of their choosing.
Because the Canadian plastics industry is concentrated within three provinces—Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec—this project is only open to those planting seeds within those regions. The seeds we will be working with are found naturally within these three provinces.
How to participate
To participate in THE COMMUNITY IS NOT A HAPHAZARD COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUALS and receive a Natural Plant Community Toolkit in the mail, visit Christina Battle’s project website and fill out a short questionnaire in order to commit to the project. Participants are asked to have a planting location in mind when they fill out the questionnaire.
When you receive your toolkit in the mail, we invite you to plant your seeds and track the growth process throughout the summer. Participants will be accepted on an ongoing basis until toolkit supplies run out.
Share your progress
After receiving and planting your toolkit, share your progress with us!
We invite participants to post images of their plant growth online using the hashtag #supportingplantcommunities and tagging @artmuseumuoft.
These responses will be incorporated into the project online, with potential inclusion in the gallery during Plastic Heart this fall. Across the course of the summer, this Virtual Spotlight page will also collect images and responses shared online. Check back for more!
This Virtual Spotlight is a special commission from the Synthetic Collective, produced by artist Christina Battle in conjunction with her contribution to Plastic Heart.
About the Artist
Christina Battle’s (Amiskwacîwâskahikan / Edmonton) artistic practice and research imagine how disaster could be utilized as a tactic for social change and as a tool for reimagining how dominant systems might radically shift. This work and research are situated around her recently completed PhD dissertation: Disaster as a Framework for Social Change: Searching for new patterns across plant ecology and online networks (2020).
We gratefully acknowledge the operating support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council, with additional project support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.