Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory (2014-2015)

Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory is an umbrella title for a multi-modal project that involved collecting, studying and researching plants in a specific area of Southern California. Restricting my investigation to vegetation classified as invasive by the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee (CISAC)—a scientific organization charged with creating a statewide “living list” of invasive species since late 2009—I was able to determine which “so-called” invasive species have infiltrated that highly local site. 

 

Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory investigates the distinction between native versus invasive species as determined by the CISAC. The discourse surrounding a list of “invasive” or “alien” flora species has interesting and fruitful correlations to policies regarding immigration, multiculturalism and evolving ideas about national identities that are inherently tied to the identity of border cultures and a location that has carried the name of a number of nations through the historical record. The project allows viewers to engage in a meaningful and nuanced way with how these issues are thought of, in direct and applicable terms. 

 

The project takes a number of forms two of which are being researched and produced within the frame of KKH. One, a sculpture, refers to the Harvard Natural History Museum’s Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, which is a window into the common presence in 1892 of what are now rare California native plants; the piece explores the fears about the ultimate disappearance of natives in the wake of encroachment by alien species. The second piece takes the form of a series of narratives. I am writing travelogue style, journal entries from the perspective of each of the collected alien-invasive plant subjects. The writings detail their journeys to California through the historical record and how the perception of them has changed over the course of time; uncovering and highlighting episodes of how these plants were brought to California, their integration into the landscape, and their shifting position culturally and environmentally."

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contact_la_print_1Jenny Yurshansky "Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory (Detention)" 2014