Embodied Scientist Training: Suit Up, Join the Emergent Plantocene Clean Up

The EPA facilitated an Embodied Scientist Training on May 4th in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s unprecedented rollback of 75+ federal environmental rules and regulations and a nearby Cement Factory in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The training is a call to intimate action, offering strategies for intimate care, DIY fieldwork and speculative thinking on the resilience of spontaneous urban plants.

Emergent Plantocene Cleaning Score:

Take an EPA Suit and Suit Up!
Watch the 3 minute EPA training video
Take the EPA Clean-Up toolkit and walk to the nearby cement factory (Clean-Up site)

As you walk to the Clean-Up Site: Taste the air, feel the temperature, gauge the humidity
Observe the dust. Go towards the trouble
Look to the ground. Find a spontaneous plant
It has come to balance a disturbance
Open the toolkit and use the guidebook to identify the plant

Prepare yourself for the cleaning process
Protect yourself with mask and gloves
Take a moment to listen to the plant
Discover the offering it brings

Take time to carefully clean the plant
Use the tools to clear waste and particles
Gently pick, scrape, and brush
Use the cotton swabs and spray bottle to remove residual layers of dust
Both plants and humans can have their breathing compromised by the accumulation of cement dust
Collect a dust sample for the EPA archive
Label with the date (and the species if known)

Return to the gallery
Display your dust sample on the shelf.
Use the provided markers to write / draw a recording of your sensation directly onto the suit.

Return the EPA Suit to the rack.
Thanks for becoming a interspecies EPA Agent

OnBehalfOf.Life at SENCER

EPA Agent Chris Kennedy and collaborator Dan Phiffer prepared remarks and a presentation at the Annual Meeting of SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) this April on the use of OnBehalfOf.Life. Kennedy spoke about his adaptation of the platform to uses in the classroom at the New School University, as well as a variety of workshop formats inside galleries and museums.

Asphalt Cut-Outs for Staying with the Trouble at GraftersXChange

From March 28-31st the EPA participated in GraftersXChange in Hamilton New York. We brought our practice of breaking down pavement to allow for remediation and rewilding in the form of a durational performance and workshop. As we described in the publication for the event:

We offer “Asphalt Cut-Outs” as a small physical and sensual gesture for interacting with paved land that has suffered disturbance and accumulated toxicity. Carved out by hand with chisel and mallet, Asphalt Cut-Outs are minimalist in shape and humble in size, ranging from six to seventeen inches wide, and taking geometric or organic shapes, some referencing human or plant bodies, like the vulva or the leaf. Removing the asphalt in this way allows for the “airing out” of the compacted soil below, creating a small “(re)disturbance” that begins the process of rewilding, eventually creating a small weedy island ecosystem in a sea of asphalt. 

The Cut-Out process as we practice it is laborious. It is intentionally time-consuming, precious and delicate while simultaneously loud like a jack hammer, destructive but also rhythmic, demanding and invigorating. The opener must be attentive to small, slow changes as their body vibrates against, into, and through body of the land. This invites us to attend to land that has been traumatized, to soil compressed under the asphalt. We face our own complicity in the sociocultural structures that made it possible, even preferable, to take this life-giving substrate and lock it away. The opener of the Cut-Out travels forwards and backwards in time, contemplating past and future, while anchored in the present by the crumbling of the asphalt and the breathing and expanding of the moist, perhaps toxic soil, infused with the detritus of generations colonization and industrialization. Through repetitive movement and slow progress, the process asks that we stay with the trouble, opening up to multisensorial inputs (grasping, rocking, singing, dancing to the rhythm of the pounding mallet). 

What does it mean to unlock soil that is both life-giving and toxic, to take that airing out into your own body, and let it leave again? Is this a healing process? Of What? Who heals who? In the small gesture of an Asphalt Cut-Out, we seek to face entanglement with past damages, and perhaps take a small step on a path leading towards decolonizing nature and ourselves. Thus we offer Asphalt Cut-Outs as a recipe for Reciprocal Healing for a Multispecies Commons.

Thanks to Margaretha Haughwout, Colgate University, and all the amazing participants who labored with us over the weekend! We leave the rest of the process to plants, weather and time…

They Tried to Eradicate Us / Environmental Empathies

Kimberly Reinhardt and the EPA is sharing a new silkscreen poster at the exhibition Environmental Empathies at the Callahan Center Art Gallery at St. Francis College Feb. 6 – March 28, 2019. More about the project:

They Tried to Eradicate Us, They Didn’t Know We Were Weeds

On every continent and in every bioregion, weedy species find a way to survive. Their resilience is at once inspiring while also threatening to many, bringing to fore a complex set of questions about migration, climate change, and the interconnectedness of multispecies life in a time of extinction. As both a performative gesture and call to action, these prints draw inspiration from the texts of poet Dinos Christianopoulos and recent activist movements in Central America. Over the past several years, the phrase “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds” has been popularized in the midst of discriminatory immigration “reform”, with its origins in a couplet appearing in Christianopoulos’ 1978 book, The Body and the Wormwood:

what didn’t you do to bury me

but you forgot that I was a seed

Designed to be wheat pasted in the streets of NYC, this project evolves these entangled texts within the context of ruderal urban landscapes and the work of the artist collective the Environmental Performance Agency. At the EPA we draw inspiration from the wisdom of spontaneous urban plants (aka weeds), and intend these posters to encourage further acts of resistance that take a cue from the ingenuity of wild urban plants and interspecies collaboration.