This moving garden installation centers around a small ceramic dog named Mami, who sits atop a pillar, and whose belly has been sliced open. From the belly flows a steady stream of water, which in turn is slowly irrigated into the soil of the garden below. From the garden we see the growth of a variety of weeds which had been gathered from in and around the Binckhorst’s Dogtown surroundings. The aim to visualise the moral paradox of growth through violence by following a story about my mother and her friend; Mami the dog.
The story goes that every year my mother and her colleagues would work for some months in the small greek town of Narthaki, where Mami lived. Every year that they went, Mami would be pregnant, or nursing a new litter, and since Mami was a street dog this proved to be a particularly excessive strain on her body. After a time of noticing this cycle my mom, together with her colleagues, collected enough money to get Mami spayed, and in this way, spared her somewhat from the conditions of her circumstance.
The anxiety of pregnancy and the threat it presents unto the body antagonizes an old moral code. Following the writings of Silvia Federici in Caliban and the Witch; chilbearing has longtime been a condition of womanhood and motherhood. It is through this ideology that the female body could be claimed by a (christian) patriarchy, and where a loss of fertility assumes ‘a loss of purpose’. With Mami however, spaying is approached as a necessary act by which she can lead a full life. This installation therefore, reflects on the duality by which an act of violence and supposed mutilation, is simultaneously one of growth and mercy.
The social condition of ‘growth’ emerges as a challenge through the state of the garden as well. Rather than it being neat and clean, the garden is fast growing, wild, and full of unwanted street seeds, brambles, bushes, and saplings. These leafy ‘outsiders’ are reimagined in a frame of subversive possibilities for strength, furthermore posing a question on the nature of desired, and undesired identity/reproduction.
The location of Dogtown frames this work in a surrounding of hybrid collage, playfully disruptive graffiti, and experimental material. This, along with the out-of-the-way nature of the garage, turns the space into a kind of secret, anarchist dwelling through which new forms of expression and identity begin to develop. Mami, in this push and pull environment, reconciles its vulnerability as a source for power, and amidst the fiery tempers of the Dogtown, grows into it, unfettered.