echo, 2022–on going
Narcissus pseudonarcissus bulbs, shovel, topsoil, and compost
In October 2022, trenches were dug 6 inches deep in the shape of the word DROWN to span 4.5 feet tall by 18 feet long. Narcissi last approximately four years and they spread. This has been a project that tackles ideas of ephemera, memory, sustainability, and durability of both nature and the self. The flowers bloomed around April 15, 2023. The majority of the bulbs bloomed as double daffodils with white petals, known as Narcissus Sweet Desire or Narcissus My Story.
Daffodils are poisonous. They line the river Styx, the boundary between earth and the underworld. The last flower Persephone picked before she was abducted by Pluto was a narcissus. This was thought to be in the meadows of Enna.
This work is partly an homage to Ovid’s story of Narcissus and Echo and the daffodil in that story, which grew out of Narcissus withering/drowning, entranced by his own image unrecognizable. I am amused that a thing that will wither will spell out the word drown. Imbued with life, I like that there is a notion of drowning in possibility, that even a painful change like cutting into the earth could turn into something beautiful and prominent. Big enough for the gods to see, this is a tale back to them, reflecting and echoing back the notion of endlessness that could not exist without another, like the sad love story between the demigod and nymph.
By utilizing living material, by not making anything new, echo emphasizes the power of the seasons and the sun, blooming and then storing energy for the next season, propagating in the earth. I become the medium for them in the equation, but it could be anyone. The work brings together different points in history; it is antiquity but it is also a contemporary queer memory and message–a performance of sorts. When I dig into the earth, I am trying to heal myself, the process becoming close to ritual: a sick animal in a hole, burrowing, and dwelling. It is a move towards belonging.
The flowers will become light. This is still a work in progress.