14/01/2023 – 25/02/2023
10:00 -17:00 (closed Sundays)
Galway Arts Centre | 47 Dominick Street
Xenophon: Making Oddkin with Japanese Knotweed
Exhibition Opening at 6pm on Saturday 14th January
This exhibition continues McGibbon’s exploration into multi-species futures through the world of Xenophon. This alter-imaginary is populated by Xenothorpians, a fluid species that commune & mutate with living & non-living entities to adapt to the Anthropocene. Their hybridisations provide a backdrop from which new stories emerge- a satirical approach to the problem of humans.
The title of the exhibition draws on Donna Haraway’s approach to Making kin, emphasising the necessity to enlarge our capacity to care and nurture relations with the odd and unexpected and company we keep. The works reveal the artist’s personal exploration into the complexities of living well with the unkempt edges of the garden, brimming with creatures and invasive species. The work considers the problem of pesticides and species supremacy, centring on the removal of Japanese knotweed, an invasive plant that reduces species diversity, alters wildlife habitats and causes structural damage to human properties.
The exhibition reveals an expansive narrative that re-thinks human-nature relations. Through an experimental merging with the garden, the artist becomes Xenothorpain, hybridising with the plants, insects, stones and tools. From this multi-species ontology, the world is activated through the vision of the Aphalara itadoria, an insect native to Japan that only eats the sap of Japanese knotweed and is used as a biological control agent in parts of Europe.
The exhibition presents a series of new installations, integrating drawing, traditional Japanese textiles and sculptural installations in which the lines between bodies, objects and actions mutate. The works provide access points to focused strands of research in radical botany, plant spirit shamanism, permaculture, and queer and multi-species ecologies that informed McGibbon’s relations with the garden. The artist explores where these approaches clash and overlap, in an effort that is equally earnest and flawed. Using humour McGibbon acknowledges the difficulty in shedding her anthropocentric bias and to a certain extent, her actions are derailed by her propensity to eat her problems.
Narrative elements of hybridity are further communicated through material storytelling. Multi-species materials are integrated throughout the exhibition, articulating the artist’s experience and entanglements in the garden. ‘With-stone’, cast from saliva, Japanese knotweed oil, rainwater and fat, re-imagines a stone used to secure weed mat, in an installation infused with plant spirit shamanism. Textiles created with shibori, a traditional Japanese resist-dying, merge blood, urine and plant dyes to create patterns symbolic of Japan’s appreciation of imperfection. The artist’s approach to material and symbols are a testament to her encounter with the garden.
Japanese Knotweed is an invasive species. It spreads rapidly, reducing species diversity and altering the habitat for wildlife. Once established, the plant is extremely difficult to remove. The plant should be respected and perhaps feared. This project does not endorse the foraging of Japanese knotweed because of its potential to propagate from small cuttings. However, if you have Japanese knotweed on your land and don’t intend to eradicate it with herbicides, this exhibition may offer insights into cohabitation.
Dr Siobhan McGibbon is a Visual Artist & World-builder with a transdisciplinary practice. Her expression mutates, merging sculpture, animation, drawing, permaculture & participatory installations.
McGibbon created the world of Xenophon (2015) with writer Maeve O’Lynn to query post-Anthropocene futures. The world unfolds with each body of work, collaborating with practitioners in specific fields to build the narrative.
Xenophon is activated in multiple contexts; galleries, labs, gardens, and site-specific & virtual interventions. Including; Leitrim Sculpture Centre (2021), Sirius Arts Centre (2019), Triskel Arts Centre (2018), The Science Gallery (2017), Tulca (2017), The LAB (2017), Millennium Court Arts Centre (2016) and Galway city museum (2015).
Mould Making Masterclass with Artist Siobhán McGibbon
This masterclass workshop is a unique opportunity for artists to hone and develop their knowledge around the sculptural processes and creative potentials of mould-making with artist Siobhán McGibbon.
Participants will be introduced to the various stages of mould making, and basic and advanced techniques will be demonstrated and discussed. This includes teaching in the use of silicone rubber and developing small and large-scale moulds, as well as practical advice on materials and where to buy them. The workshop will be tailored around your specific artistic interests, so early registration is essential.