On Thursday, Nov. 2, the artist Meghan Moe Beitiks visited the Kalamazoo College art department and gave a presentation of her current art exposition. According to her website, through her work, Moe Beitiks negotiates associations and disassociations of culture, nature and structure through the lenses of site, history, emotions and her own body. Her artwork comments on and examines relationships with nonhumans.
Moe Beitiks’ current installation works through the system of pain and network of resilience. In this piece, she recorded her interactions with nonhumans, such as a rock, grass, a cow and tables. Moe Beitiks explained that the purpose for this project is an exploration of observation as a tool for recovery from imbalance and trauma in human and nonhuman processes.
Another project that is related to this is entitled “A Lab For Apologies And Forgiveness.” This project combined her art skills with science. When Moe Beitiks found out that a certain bacteria can reverse radiation created by nuclear power on Internet, she decided to synthesis it and craft a performance for it using documentation of, and soil from, a Montebello Islands nuclear test site. Moe Beitiks said she felt excited and grateful, because she could not believe that nature has the solution to solve a ugly man-made problem. Through both of her works and her unique philosophy, one of her goals is to always shorten the distance of humans and nonhumans.
Moe Beitiks’ philosophy is inspired by three people — Karen Barad, Jane Bennett and Gabriella Giannachi. Moe Beitiks sees that all matter has presence and vibrancy and has the potential to interact with others. She connects her interpretation of matters with her performance by scenography. Specifically, Czech stage designer Josef Svoboda describe the concept of scenography as design for performance space. Edwin Erminy, a scenographer, explained this concept: “Giving life to materials in space, using that power to tell a rich story with little means,” which is the closest to Jane Bennett’s interpretation that Moe Beitiks agrees on.
Moe Beitiks granted her performance a new layer of meaning after Jane Bennett expressed concern about the disconnection between human and nonhuman. She sets it as a purpose for her performance. In addition, through the works of Lindsey French and Agnes Denes, who connect themselves to nonhuman part of the world, Moe Beitiks deepened her philosophy of this kind of intertwined practice. She believes that it is evident in artworks that perform alongside nonhuman entities, transforming the concept and experience of time and evoking a performativity that both includes and expands beyond traditional concepts of performance and space. Moe Beitiks also reckons that humans are not isolated entities in cause and effect. She gained her idea from a classic ecologically restorative work: Mel Chin’s Revival Field to show how human plant plants to extract heavy metals from the landfill’s soil.
According to Moe Beitiks, every matters have their own liveness and potential to interact, advocates the connection between human and nonhuman part of word, and reminds people that they are not isolated from the rest of nonhuman world.