Sunday, September 10, 2006

DIEGO BONETTO - Weedy Connection Tour

This installation by Diego Bonetto takes visitors along the creek behind the Stonehurst Cedar Creek Winery Cellar.
The tour will guide participants through a number of display panels highlighting some plants commonly known as weeds. The resulting sporadic info-points are augmented by a reader and a map that the visitors will use to discover the plants in their habitat.

The framing of “illegal” and unwanted flora within a spectacle context will draw attention to the concept of “permissible species” as a social construct. Weeds are defined by a nation's laws, and what is declared a weed in one place may be a precious resource in another. There is a significant metaphorical connection between this definition of “weed” and the arbitrary restriction imposed on human migration by national governments.

Project Rationale

The possibility to spend a short period within the ecosystem of the selected vineyard will allow me to get to know the surroundings and identify the species which will most suit my project. The “residency” will also allow me to relate with the local farmers and viniculturists, investigating their own personal relationship with the “unwanted plants” enriching with local knowledge the informative displays and reader.

In the proposed intervention I will employ botanical species to metaphorically dispute the understanding of multiculturalism within the context of the Australian population, the plurality of cultures, genetic background and stories. Within a socio-ecological argument I will acknowledge the various differences of costumes/customs which exists in our culturally diverse environment and highlight the traditional connections with introduced species.

I envision that irony will be a key component of the work and I will present peculiar and bizarre uses of the unwanted botanical species, creating an aura around the plants in an attempt to elevate the weeds to pedestals usually reserved to more “legitimate” vegetation.

The display units will be placed along side the various species found on site.These information points will highlight the existence of the plants, providing a service to the visitors willing to learn more about the infamous weeds and instructing them on how to recognize them, origins, traditional uses and so forth.

With the data presented, however, I will attempt to problematise the foundation of national botanical conservation policies-by drawing a metaphorical connection between the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 and current Australian immigration processes.

In addition I will argue the homocentric nature of contemporary western societies. Such societies tend to forget or classify as less important any other species, be they animal or vegetable- and introduce environmental policies focusing primarily on human needs and discarding the rest of the ecosystem as of secondary priority. Thus we introduce species into foreign environments, we delete species in existing environments, and we classify species as “useful” or as “pests/weeds”.

Is it very controversial then to state that weeds have the right of existence too?

DIEGO BONETTO (aka Nobody) is a Sydney-based multimedia artist. Bonetto's interdisciplinary approach to art-making allows him to work collaboratively and individually, with no loyalty to particular media and materials. He is a key member of artist group SquatSpace, the Network of UnCollectable Artists, and the Sydney Moving Image Coalition. His activities create dynamic social criticism resulting in site-specific, project-driven interventions.