Artwork > homes we've never known

The plants presented in homes we’ve never known are domesticated cultivars of undomesticated originary rootstock, who haven’t yet had the chance to be part of a broader ecocultural community.

These plants were grown in a nursery setting, sprouted, selected, and cared for by humans in separate containers. Human participants are invited to sit at eye level to encounter the plants. Field recordings gathered from ecosystems where 'wild' varieties of these plants live play in the headphones next to each plant.

The small green ephedra nevadensis is paired with sounds from the cliffs above the San Juan River in what was formerly designated Bears Ears National Monument, where ephedra plants mix with junipers, pinon, cryptobiotic soil, rock/rain tinajas, jays, and ravens in a highlands community. The tufted grass alkali sacaton is paired with sounds from the remnant grasslands in the Madrean Sky Islands region, where swales of grass intermingle their roots, provide forage and shelter for insects and birds, and edge the sides of agave patches and mesquite groves. The chamisa plant is paired with the sounds from the interior of an enormous, mature chamisa bustling with pollinator life and the crystalline sounds of branches tapping against each other in the high desert wind above the Rio Grande gorge in Northern New Mexico.

The sounds of these established plant communities – the activities of pollinators, birds, soil, wind, and rain – are sounds and experiences that these particular plants have not had the chance to know. I wonder if these plants feel longing for those deeper, more established connections, for the chemical, electrical, and physical sensations of community and home. We human listeners can be psychologically transported to different locations through these immersive sounds, but the plants, cultivated in human 'domestic' settings, are unable to share in this experience.

Thank You, I Love You, I'm Sorry, December 2018. John Sommers Gallery, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.

Artist: Jessica Zeglin