How to Place Your Roots
Performance instructions for cultivating an embodied representation of your American identity by planting seeds in containers
- Get some soil.
- Attempt to source it from an ancestral land.
- Realize a hardware store might just have to do.
- Talk to your family.
- Make a chart tracing your family lines. Go as far back as you can go.
- You will hit dead ends. Realize some ends are harder than others.
- Tread lightly on yourself.
- Dig deep.
- Look the past straight in the face.
- Follow your intuition.
- Research political events that correspond to your ancestors’ nativity.
- Remember countries are both created and destroyed.
- Look for clues in cultures that mirror your most intransigent traits.
- Look in unlikely places, for example, in DoT environmental reports. Often someone has collated copious amounts of original source material in order to lay down new concrete.
- Make some educated guesses.
- Choose your set of facts.
- Research plants native to your ancestors’ lands. Go as far back as you can go.
- Realize plants do not care about countries.
- Consider borders and the arbitrariness of wind.
- Consider climate.
- Consider your options.
- Consider which plants are the hardiest, and which ones may be best suited for the life you can offer.
- Choose your set of plantcestors.
- Gather your seeds.
- Plant them in starter cells.
- Water them.
- Do not over water. Do not under water
- Expose them to light. Keep them in shade.
- Provide good drainage. Plants thrive in marshland.
- Create/find/colonize the perfect container for transplant. Fill it with your soil.
- Consider that you or your ancestors may not have chosen their places to live. Neither have these seedlings.
- Consider responsibility while watching the sprouts emerge.
- Transplant seedlings when they get 6 weeks/8 weeks/1 year old.
- Watch them grow.
- Watch them whither.
- Watch them thrive.
- Watch them die.
- Watch one strain try to dominate the rest.
- Consider mortality.
- Consider cooperation.
- Consider the improbability of this community of life.
- Consider the improbability of you.
This performance poem was written as a documentation of the process I went through to create the “self portraits in bloom and decay” in Bodies of Bois Mallet. It exists as a set of performance instructions, printed on butcher paper and mounted on found wood with bark. It is installed as a take-away for visitors and or passers by in a galleries and/or public spaces to read, tear off, take with them, and reflect and/or activate according to will. They can also be performed in as a public reading.