Image: Rachelle Dang, installation of Botanical Cage and Perimeter Wall (open and closed views), 205 Hudson Gallery, New York, NY, 2018. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Etienne Frossard.
Image: Rachelle Dang, installation detail views of Botanical Cage and Perimeter Wall, 205 Hudson Gallery, New York, NY, 2018. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Zorawar Sidhu.
Botanical Cage and Perimeter Wall
Wood, copper, steel, cement, ceramic
16 x 12 x 4.5 ft
For my installation Botanical Cage and Perimeter Wall I recreated an 18th century shipping cabinet originally designed to transport valuable breadfruit saplings from Tahiti to England over a long sea voyage. This major project of imperial botany had the end goal of cultivating breadfruit in Jamaica to relieve environmental catastrophe from monocropping sugar. My rebuilt cabinet appears as a prison or cage, sheathed in copper with its wired grills exposed. I wanted to use materiality and the relationship to the body to provoke expanded readings about violence, slavery and labor, and the ecological legacies of colonialism. I used concrete cinder blocks to refer to territory, site, and functionality, and used copper sheeting to relate to ship building, botany, and commerce. The cast and manipulated breadfruit forms appear at different stages of ripeness, decay, or rot; in piles they allude to topography, the forest floor, and the sensuality of bodily forms. They convey ideas of consumption, waste, and ecological processes.