During the residency, Shin will extract their oral microbes and fuse them into the genome of a mugwort plant that follows a long history of Korean shamanism and U.S. pesticides. One of the materials used in Korean shamanism is mugwort, an intermediary plant matter that allows female shamans to pass between worlds and speak to spirits. The psychoactive, permeable herb allows the shaman to transcend and simultaneously melt into the ecosystem. In contrast, mugwort in the U.S. is exterminated using industrial chemicals and unwanted for its invasive properties. Here, the notion of invasion is repeatedly articulated around zones of private property and raced, gendered, sexed, and national lines. In fusing genomic information between mugwort and artist, the project explores the outer limits of knowledge and the erotics of nature when borders between plants and bodies, dreams and reality dissolve and transgress.
*The project is inspired by the book "The Vegetarian" by Han Kang published in 2007.
Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin explores the porousness of bodily boundaries and the ceaseless movement of living processes, like fermentation, echoing the history of colonialism. Shin is interested in the history of conquest and the literal digestion of materials – smells, microbes, and food – as a system of relations that emerges from a complicated history of entanglement.