During one year I've followed, observed and cared for a colony of plants, Zea mays, while being in conversation with Barbara McClintock through books, notes and scientific papers. McClintock devoted her life to the genetic study of "indian corn", plants that she grew herself and cultivated for generations. Over the years she developed what she referred to as "a feeling for the organism".
McClintock won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1983 for her discovery of "jumping genes", or the ability of genes to change positions on chromosomes, discoveries she made already in the 1940s thus challenging existing concepts of what genes were capable of.
While trying to learn how to grow these majestic plants and care for them, I started
to call them Barbara. I also noticed how they changed my behavior, attention and priorities. They became an interface through which I could begin to fathom the soil food web (the complex living system in the soil and how it interacts with the environment, plants, and animals), the intriguing cultural history of maize, as well as connect over time and through practice with ancient growing techniques.
This is a work-in-progress.
With support from Konstnärsnämnden (Swedish Arts Grants Committee, Visual Arts Fund)