During the Land Arts of the American West program in Fall 2017, a (human) collaborator and I looked for ways to jump-start empathetic connection to organisms very different from human beings, exploring the interchange between plants and animals as the functioning of a larger, diffuse body. In the Gila, Paul Ross and I carried the weight of a Leyland Cypress on belly and back. Disrupting this plant’s desire for stable conditions, we alternated between animal action and plant rootedness: at White Sands National Monument, we planted ourselves into the dunes along with "Tufty." Although she was a tourist within these ecosystem, Tufty served as a guide to the experiences of other organisms alive in ways so different from us that their aliveness is often invisible to humankind.
Back in Albuquerque, we began working with a plant collaborator native to the Rio Grande, the Coyote willow, creating a series of performance-based experiments that explore places of friction and connection. We focused on exchanges that we see as core to relationships between and among species, exploring both tenderness and competition within gestures of breath, repose, and soil-building during the winter dormancy period.