Artist: Thomas Glassford
Until July 24, 2016
Museo Universitario del Chopo
Mexico City, Mexico
Siphonophora is a site-specific work that echoes earlier chapters in his career—above all his work on the articulation of neo-botanical structures—as well as a glossary constructed in the present. In direct allusion to the siphonophores, colonies of planktonic marine organisms with a peculiar morphology that places them between animals and plants, Glassford constructs a sculptural organism that recalls the building’s former incarnation as a natural history museum. The work combines reference points ranging from the human microbiome—the collection of microbes that colonize the body and that together comprise one hundred times more genes than in our own genome—to the classic children’s story Jack and the Beanstalk, by way of the artist’s own experiences on a farm, weaving together his extensive knowledge and love for plants, which form an important part of his everyday life.
In both the siphonophores and the microbiome, there is a social parallel with the community, the family nucleus, a neighborhood, or city. This dependency and correlation allows unity and divergence. The encounter with this complex installation fluctuates in the perception between a fossil, plant elements, or an animal organism. Depending on the viewpoint, its monumental character situates us walking on the ocean floor, entering a cave, observing from the sea surface, or seeing a climbing plant from cloud level. This ambiguity highlights the construction of parallel worlds in which viewers recognize themselves in the astonishment of a single, unrepeatable yet collective reflection.