[-empyre-] short answer post :: all of -empyre-, what non-human relationships are you cultivating?

Ellie Irons ellieirons at gmail.com
Sun Oct 8 11:24:41 AEDT 2017

Hi Margaretha, hello everyone out there!

I’m new to empyre this month (at Margaretha’s invitation, thank you!) and I’ve found it interesting to let this week’s words wash across my inbox & into my brain intermixed with the usual practicalities, deadlines, correspondence. The textural shift has been refreshing & occasionally disorienting, in a good way. Thank you to all who contributed this week! 

I have also just moved, so I relate to the new/fragile aspect of the connection process to a new habitat, as you mentioned Margaretha. Because many of the nonhumans I cultivate relationships with through my artistic practice are weedy plants that pop up wherever humans disturb the landscape or congregate in large numbers (which I’ll address more during Week 3 with my collaborator Christopher Kennedy) I find familiar companion species wherever I go. I’m finding relatives of familiar plants, if not the same species, in my new habitat. Of course this is comforting on some level, and disturbing on another. But I’m more interested in how these weedy plants might, despite being described by current science as the same species across multiple disturbed landscapes, actually have different characteristics and qualities throughout. Some plant species that have greeted me both in tiny fragments of “vacant” land in Brooklyn and large, post industrial brownfield sites along the Hudson in Troy, NY:

American pokeweed (Phytolacca Americana)
Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) 
Asiatic dayflower (Commelina communis)

Baked into the way we call these plants are suggestions about where they come from- some folks would extend this to where they “belong". As a somewhat nomadic human who tries to live in a rooted way wherever I find myself, the ability of these plants to dig into decomposing parking lots in Taipei (Phytolacca), irradiated rice fields in Japan (Solidago), and roundup ready soybean fields in Iowa (Commelina) strikes me as miraculous & hopeful, despite the context that makes my fascination possible. 

Much more on all this later this month, but couldn’t resist the invitation to share a little about some nonhumans of interest :)

Best wishes & weedy solidarity!


> On Oct 7, 2017, at 1:41 PM, margaretha haughwout <margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello all,
> I'm driving across the northeast today, watching trees head into dormancy, and thinking about the conversation that has begun this week. Lots to reply to. I look forward to catching up fully this evening and tomorrow --
> In the meantime, a question for all of -empyre-::
> What relations are you cultivating with on-humans at the moment? I have just moved, so my relationships are new and fragile:
> hawthorn tree at my studio
> crabapples, apples behind my house
> wild apples at colleagues house
> mouse behind my oven
> chamomile and brassicas in my greenhouse
> boneset in the trails
> joe pye weed in the marshes
> to name a few
> --
> beforebefore.net <http://beforebefore.net/>
> guerrillagrafters.org <http://guerrillagrafters.org/>
> coastalreadinggroup.com <http://coastalreadinggroup.com/>
> --
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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