New EPA Show at the UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art (Ent Center for the Arts), October 1 – 29, 2021
Undesirable Plants Declare* brings the Environmental Performance Agency’s work to the unceded territory of the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho Peoples, to investigate the diverse multispecies lifeways and teachings of spontaneous urban plants (aka weeds). Asking “In a time of ongoing pandemic crisis, how do we revalue what care means for all living beings?”, the exhibition shares and extends the EPA’s Multispecies Care Survey, a public engagement and data gathering initiative that aims to cultivate the co-generation of embodied, localized plant-human care practices. Launched during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, the Survey is an interactive web platform (multispecies.care) featuring a collection of participatory methods for attuning to vegetal perspectives and working with spontaneous urban plants as guides, collaborators, and mentors while social distancing. In the exhibition’s archive space, visitors can view video documentation of entries collected during the 2020-21 Survey cycle, explore the survey directly, and actively participate by engaging in a new protocol developed for this exhibition.
In the entryway to the gallery, visitors are introduced to a delegation of EPA weedy plant experts from New York City, and invited to assist the EPA in assessing the capabilities and wisdom of local “undesirable” plant expert Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea maculosa). Through this Public Review with Knapweed, the EPA asks: What are the qualities, perspectives, skills, and relations that Knapweed can bring to the EPA? Participate in public fieldwork by listening, observing, and moving with urban plants, then share your sensorial experiences and Knapweed knowledge on the collaborative Public Review Diagram in the gallery.
The EPA will ultimately use this research in drafting a new piece of policy, The Multispecies Act. This Act aims to offer a set of embodied, actionable principles for centering spontaneous urban plant life as one means (among many) of contending with the failure of our environmental regulatory apparatus to deliver policy that promotes reciprocal relations between human and nonhuman life.
* The term “undesirable plant” comes from the Colorado Springs Code of Ordinances, section “9.6.314 Undesirable Plant Management,” which identifies Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula), Diffuse knapweed (Centaurea diffusa), Russian knapweed (Centaurea repens), Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa), and Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) as undesirable weeds located on public, private or city land, and subject to control or eradication (In accord with Colorado Revised Statutes section 35-5.5-108). “Control” means preventing an undesirable plant from forming viable seeds or vegetative propagules. Those who harbor or maintain undesirable plants are declared to be a public nuisance.