Vase Wre(li)c(k) #2
20 x 20 x 3.5″
Plaster, acrylic, wire
16 x 16″
Plaster, ink, board
5 x 7″
Plaster, ink, board
A note on the writing
The writing that you will see in “Homo Feminus: Excavations and Histories from the 5100AD” is a sample. It shows a general layout of the booklet which will be printed, the main themes, and the first few pages that are fleshed out.
The artworks appearing in this booklet were produced independently at first. In time it became apparent that the artworks are but one tactile way to crystalize the imagined universe that gradually emerged. My aim shifted from looking back at the present from the future, to looking back at a speculative future from a post-future. In this future, a new single-sex species is made: Homo Feminus. It is both an intentional and accidental offshoot of mankind. The Homo Feminus civilization exists for more than 1100 years and is extinct by the time of its discovery, around 5000AD, by the aliens that author this booklet. The reasons for extinction is conjectured by the aliens to be sea level rise and submergence of continental landmass. The artworks can be considered excavated artifacts or reconstructions of originals of the Homo Feminus civilization by the alien culture.
Writing about futurities contextualizes the artworks, fragments until they congeal under a common conceptual framework. More importantly, writing elicited multiple questions and responses regarding the new world, some of which extend beyond the artwork. This generative process and space of immense possibilities fascinate me, and worldbuilding is as fundamental to the project as the artworks.
Humans have been bio-engineering physiological traits of other species for our benefits since the twentieth century. The making of a new species is entirely possible with current biotechnology. When I call this future speculative, I draw on Margaret Atwood’s definition[i] – certain elements in the fictitious world have verifiable origins in the present reality, and that world is one that could happen. That Homo Feminus is the consequence of Sapiens tampering and that they share common genetic traits with Sapiens allows for parallels between the two societies and subtle critique of the present Sapiens world. Embedded in the ‘pre-determined’ origin of Homo Feminus are queries on the human capacity to shape the fates of our society and those of other beings.
A few of the many issues pivotal to the Feminus existence involve identity politics, origin, technology, and views on the patriarchal past (in the Sapiens present).
Some of these issues are framed around queries, which I value as an art form. This is why I assumed the voice of aliens—they are avatars of my curiosity and attempts at answers. Does the obsolescence of gender binaries spill over to segmental thinking in other facets of life, and what are the implications in politics and ecology? What happens when dualistic thinking underlying our societal constructions wobbles—such as man/nature, life/nonlife? What does identity construction look like without gender? Is the Feminus society more harmonious both internally and externally in relation to Earth? Is interpersonal relationship less distant? Is Feminus confounded by its origin? Does a Feminus individual associate objects with masculine and feminine traits like Sapiens? Do imperialist and capitalistic desires diminish or take on different skins? What is the societal consensus on ethics of bio-engineering, if any? Some questions will be accounted for, and others remain mysterious and inconclusive. I rely on this uncertainty for its fluid affects of provoking possibilities and implying complexity.
As aliens, I study Homo Feminus in ways reminiscent and critical of colonial gaze and othering tendencies in our anthropology and history. The tone of the writing partially mimics the human attitude, while partially remaining alienand irrational to human logic. Shifting among the monotonous, the lyrical and the dramatic, I synthesize multiple voices and writing styles–from academic textbooks, Wikipedia entries, museum wall texts and speculative fiction to poetic proses etc. The delivery, cloaked in anthropological shadows, intends to disrupt the norm of academic discourses. The fictitious alien authors who write the book might not be aware they are defying human intellectual norms.
[i] Margaret Atwood, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (New York: Random House, Inc., 2011).
Cover of “Homo Feminus: Excavations and Histories from the 5100s”