Kiyan Williams, In Defense of Weeds, 2022, Amaranth, LED grow light, mirror-polished stainless steel, MDF, Dimensions variable
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Kiyan Williams (they/them) is a visual artist and writer who works fluidly across performance, sculpture, video, and 2d realms. Rooted in a process-driven practice, they are attracted to quotidian, unconventional materials and methods that evoke the historical, political, and ecological forces that shape individual and collective bodies.
Williams’s In Defense of Weeds is an installation that quite literally grew out of one of the artist’s public art sculptures. Amaranths grew at the base of the sculpture but were removed over the objections of the artist because they were considered weeds by the groundskeepers. What is traditionally worthy and unworthy of our attention within horticultural norms becomes a powerful metaphor in this installation. Plants defined in another context as weeds are now situated within the gallery atop a pedestal. Within the gallery, the plants are now treated with care that contributes to what Williams terms the plant’s survivance (a neologism formed out of survival + resistance). As Williams writes, “In Defense of Weeds is a small intervention to the protocols of disposability, and an attempt to intervene on what (or who) gets cared for (cultivated), and what (or who) gets thrown away.” Despite the artist’s utopian hopes, they consider that the conditions of a gallery might not be the most hospitable for life to flourish, and that these plants might meet their original fate. Care, therefore, might be more than offering them a new home but also shifting the culture by which they are rendered disposable.
For Chapter 6 of Indisposable: Structures of Support after the ADA, Williams created Piecing Myself Back Together After The World Has Ended, a new video in a series of works which furthers the artist’s aesthetic and conceptual exploration of Blackness, ecology, and trans/gressive subjectivity; wherein bodies are in process, oscillate in legibility, and blur the boundaries between self and other forms of sentient life.