IN TRANSIT: Botany of a Journey by Asunción Molinos Gordo
IN TRANSIT: Botany of a Journey was a garden grown from seeds that have travelled in the intestines of people that either live in or visit the city of Dubai. Most of the seeds we eat in our daily meals pass unnoticed and survive the process of human digestion, leaving our bodies undamaged and remaining germinable. As a global city and the business hub of the Middle East, Dubai receives an average of 90 million travellers a year, coming from 270 destinations, across six continents. The culinary habits of such a heterogeneous population is incomparable; all of the seeds ingested by Dubai’s fluid and transient population make their way to the same location — the city’s main sewage treatment plant in Al-Aweer. For this project, two cubic meters of the plant’s dehydrated ‘sludge’ was farmed and provided with the right irrigation, light and temperature; the seeds contained in the sludge germinated and grew into a variety of fruit, vegetable, flower and spice plants — tomato, watermelon, chili, eggplant, muskmelon, zucchini, amaranth, mustard, citrus, sunflower, pomegranate and pumpkin plants.
Asunción’s garden is a poetic enactment that redraws our way back to interconnectedness, proving the important role that our bodies play as pollinators, life containers and an ecosystem on their own right. The project challenged the nature-culture divide that places human activity as a separate category from other natural phenomena and in doing so reflects on the ideas of globality, mobility, cohabitation and survival.
IN TRANSIT: Botany of a Journey was realised with the kind support of Dubai Municipality, American University of Sharjah, Sia Landscaping and Al Zahra Farm.
About Asunción Molinos Gordo
Asunción Molinos Gordo (b.1979, lives and works in Madrid, Spain) is a research-based artist strongly influenced by disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and cultural studies. In her practice she questions the categories that define ‘innovation’ in mainstream discourses today, working to generate a less urban-centric way of understanding progress.
The main focus of her work is contemporary peasantry. Her understanding of the figure of the small or medium farmer is not merely as food producer but as cultural agent, responsible for both perpetuating traditional knowledge and for generating new expertise. She employs installation, photography, video, sound and other media to examine the rural realm driven by a strong desire to understand the value and complexity of its cultural production, as well as the burdens that keep it invisible and marginalised.
She has produced work reflecting on land usage, nomad architecture, farmers’ strikes, bureaucracy on territory, transformation of rural labour, biotechnology and global food trade.
Molinos Gordo won the Sharjah Biennial Prize 2015 with her project WAM (World Agriculture Museum) and represented Spain at the 13th Havana Biennial, 2019. Her work has been exhibited at venues including V&A Museum, London (2019), Delfina Foundation, London (2019), Arnolfini, Bristol (2011), The Townhouse Gallery, Cairo (2010), Darat Al Funun, Amman (2013), Tranzit, Prague (2016), Art Basel Miami Beach (2015), Cappadox Festival, Uçhisar (2016), The Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki (2017), Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico (2017), Museo de Arte de Zapopan, Mexico (2017), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla (MUSAC), León (2015), CA2M, Madrid (2015), Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos, Spain (2018), Matadero Madrid (2015) and La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2013), among others.
She obtained her BFA from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, where she also pursued her MA in Contemporary Art Theory and Practice. She is currently studying Anthropology and Ethnography at UNED, Spain.
Asunción Molinos Gordo in conversation with Art Jameel’s Dawn Ross and writer/researcher Nadia Christidi in a discussion about her research on the germination of seeds that have survived the human digestive process, reflecting on ideas of the gut, mobility and cohabitation.