The Allegory of Adam and Eve, tells us of the first man & woman, having brought death into the world by their disobedience, by consuming the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good & evil. Adam (אדם) literally means “red” Adamah is translatable as ground or earth. Eve is derived from the Latin name Eva. In Hebrew חַוָּה (Chavah/Ḥawwāh) is believed to mean “living one” or “source of life”.
Combining this contemporary issue of heirloom food security and the narratives of religious, racial and gender dynamics that are used as a tool to solidify hierarchical power structures, I aim to re-examine ways to redefine community structures that support the relationship between humans and the planet we all inhabit. By challenging the destructive consumerist consciousness through experiential exchange, we will interrogate the phenomenon of collective guilt and transgenerational genetic trauma.
Collective guilt is the emotional reaction that results among a group of individuals, when it is perceived that the group illegitimately harmed members of another group. It is often the result of sharing a social identity with others whose actions represent a threat to the positivity of that identity. For an individual to experience collective guilt, she/he/they must identify him/herself/themself as a part of the in-group.
HARD TO SWALLOW
In the context of my ancestral trauma, I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa,1986, into a white, secular jewish, upper-middle class family. I was too young to understand what Apartheid was & how it deeply affected all of my social interactions. By the time I was 12, the age for a girl to have a bat mitzvah, I decided that wasn’t for me. Beyond the unconscious victimhood mentality and strong desire to preserve culture, I still acknowledge my jewish bloodline yet do not adhere to any religious practices.
My parents were born in South Africa in the 1950’s. Although I do not blame them or my grandparents for their privilege, were they existed in a society rewarded for their whiteness and jewish heritage. On my paternal side both my grandparents were born in Southern Africa, their parents came from Lithuania, France and Czechoslovakia. On my maternal side my Grandmother was born in Manchester and Grandfather in South Africa, their parents were born in London, Holland, Latvia and Russia. It was because my great grandparents fleeing the oppression of the Nazi Regime that I came to exist in my colonial facade.
PART 1: Durational performance.
Working title: Mutual (mas)tication
The aim of this ritual will be to consume together, all of the apples and the cores, without chewing, breaking or ingesting the seeds. With practicing self observance, awareness and principles of discernment – the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure : an act of perceiving or discerning something without judgment.
If an individual human chews and digests around 40 apple cores with the seeds, cyanide is activated when mixed with human stomach acid and can produce fatal results.
This project becomes somewhat of social experiment. There is a sense of empowerment that arises when faced with a situation of the unknown. There is no way of predicting how long the performance take or how it with evolve. It may be perceived as harrowing, with visceral emotions arising in the process, perhaps empathy, sympathy, perhaps even sadistic or masochist perceptions. Perhaps it will be funny, bringing about a deep sense of joy.
(There will be a microphone set up for the amplification of the sounds generated from biting and chewing the apples.)
For each apple eaten, I will ask that the seeds from that individual apple be placed in its own hand made vessel. The seeds represent the fatality of this guilt consciousness, as many sages speak of guilt having no purpose on a spiritual path. Every seed has the potential for new life. I ask myself the metaphorical question, that in this scenario, if the seeds of the apples represent knowledge, then we consume this knowledge at our own potential demise then what are we teaching the future generations?
The Performance ritual commences with an intent of non verbal communication.
WHY IS AN AFRICAN PHILOSOPHY CONCEPTUALLY RELEVANT?
I resonate deeply with the African philosophy of Ubuntu, meaning “humanity”. It is often translated as “I am because we are,” or “humanity towards others”, but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”. This produces a perceptual shift from thinking of oneself in terms of ‘I’ and ‘me’ to ‘us’ or ‘we’.
‘In African belief, human life is bound up in saliva just as it is bound up in blood. Saliva is believed to be the lubricant of life, consequently its absence leads to the end of life. The connection between saliva and human’s essence makes it a sacred fluid, hence it can be used in contracting sacred agreements, for blessing, ritual cleansing and other sacred purposes. The ascribed sanctity of saliva imparts it with both positive and negative powers, depending on the mood and intention of the person at the time that it is intentionally released from the mouth. While its positive uses usher in blessings, peace and harmony, ritual purity, healing, self protection, its negative application gives power to curses, sorcery, and for correcting the evildoer. Though punitive and painful in nature, it is seen as a powerful element for conquering psychic attacks and for rejecting and warding off mental poisoning. Adherents of African traditional religion acknowledge the fact that the mana operating behind saliva is neutral; consequently it could produce negative results if it is abused.’
My intent is that through these ritualistic practices we create the opportunity to re-write and re-tell historical narratives, through both internal and external dialogues. Through tactile and haptic process, be able to re-mould societal constructs, beginning to grapple with the notions of non linear timelines. Multiple ancestral timelines existing within us as individuals but also as a collective consciousness.
*These vessels are still in their prototype phase, I am still experimenting with open pit firing techniques.
IN THE COURSE OF A LINEAR TIME
“Consider a hundred years as a minimum threshold for long-term thinking. This is the current length of a long human lifespan, taking us beyond the ego boundary of our own mortality, so we begin to imagine futures that we can influence but not participate in ourselves.” By Roman Krznaric
In the grand scheme of the project, once the seedlings have become saplings, they would need to be grafted onto existing fruit bearing trees. In order for this to happen I would need to find a community greenhouse, ‘appointed’ custodianship over the seedlings and connect with local organic farmers/permaculturists in the region to research the possibilities of planting an organic apple orchard.
I would foresee this timeline stretching to around 3- 4 years. It then takes another 3 – 6 years for the fruits to become edible. There is also the question of bee-keeping in the vicinity of the imagined orchid, in order to pollinate the apple blossoms, as well as the localized weather and seasonal climates.