symbionts of capitalist ruin (2022-2023)

Gwenyth Chao

Gwenyth Chao, MFA 2023

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The series explores the porosity of bodies as entities and the symbiosis that becomes possible with permeability. The (re)imagined worlds in my sculptural installations are situated in depleted sites where capitalist extraction and our ecological crisis have exhausted the land of materials and food. Speculating on these potential futures, what materials – for sustenance, building, creative endeavors – will we think with then? Thinking through a critical discourse of ecologies, I (re)imagine and “propose near futures, possible futures, and implausible but real nows” through a materially emergent and ecological, situated practice (Haraway 2016, 136).

In my trandisciplinary and experimental process, I research and work with a growing repertoire of ingestible biomaterials made from compostable waste like food refuse. I transplant techniques and making processes from other knowledge s – including but not limited to gastronomy cooking, ceramic coil building, 3D printing, food science, pastry cake decorating, and polymer chemistry – into the studio and develop biomaterial recipes for putties, clays, and paper. By intentionally confusing the value systems embedded in different knowledge bodies, I wonder: how can the organic materials I work with be more than waste?