Afghan Poppies (New Silk Road), Spice
Route Series, 2016, Digital Print; ink, silk
As an interdisciplinary artist and multisensory storyteller, I borrow from anthropology, ethnography, botany, and archeology to awaken latent imaginaries. My research-based process allows me to co-labor with scholars, scientists and community stakeholders to assemble surviving fragments in service of public history. I leverage sculptural installations, experiential technology collaborations, olfactory art, participatory performances and publishing to shift dominant narratives. Standing between diaspora and indigeneity, I navigate the oceanic, cultural and trade circulations between Asia, the Americas and Europe. I borrow the transporting power of smell to retain evaporating memory and fight erasure.
My trajectory began retracing 19th century Asian labor and migratory landmarks in Peru, which subsequently opened my vista to millennia-old transpacific migrations. These experiences influence my site-specific activations and propel me to work in relationship with original peoples, land and waters. I have also been tracing environmental degradation, wealth inequality, and the ramifications of colonialism to their roots in the early modern spice trade. From botanical expeditions to militarized landscapes and forgotten tropical paradises, I examine the contemporary resonances of these patterns of exploitation. This has manifested as a fake perfume boutique that unveils to mall-goers the social botanical history behind luxury, commerce and intoxication, mining the intertwined geopolitical fate of Manhattan and the nutmeg-rich Rhun Island, and engaging with a Gilded Age mansion financed by tobacco sales.