Weeds from Detroit's Eastern Market were collected and re-planted inside Cranbrook Academy of Art's New Studios building. Is weeding a necessary act of removal? Can weeding be a positive act as well? In many ways, weeds act as mirrors; they reflect the health of our surroundings. In his text The Unsettling of America, Wendell Berry writes, "Why do the health of the body and the earth decline together?" Weeds are indicators. They reflect the displacement of bodies as gentrification removes not only certain people but also certain plants from particular sites. Michel When discussing his concept of the heterotopia, Foucault explains, "The garden is the smallest parcel of the world and then it is the totality of the world.” Is a garden of weeds also a heterotopia? Is a garden of weeds something that shows care and pride, or does it show the loss of protection against gentrification and other acts of displacement? The USDA defines weeds, noxious weeds, invasive plants, and other "others" in relation to the human existence: An invasive species is: “1) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and 2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health." Full lists of illegal plants (and their seeds) are created by each state, as are the penalties associated with the transport, sale, and purchase of invasive species. Where does this language originate and what does it mean? How is the value system here mirrored in the regulation of bodies?
This work asks more questions than it answers. And, hopefully, this is a starting point for conversation about weeds, humans, and the spaces in-between.
After completing her BFA at Oregon State University, Madelaine Corbin moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains of California to work at Djerassi Resident Artists Program. While in Oregon, she worked in a chemistry lab assisting with the synthesis of inorganic pigments. She also spent a summer in the New York Arts Practicum working under an artist growing public food on a floating barge (Mary Mattingly's SWALE: A Floating Food Forest). Among others, these two influences led to Corbin’s work constructing mobile gardens for natural dye plants along with a series of workshops and print-on-demand books. She is currently pursuing her MFA as a graduate student at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Fiber.