Becoming Entangled: Queer Attachments with Hemiparasites

Authors

  • Lesley Instone Independent Scholar and Conjoint Senior Lecturer, University of Newcastle, Australia https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2674-1988
  • Rhett D'Costa Honorary University Fellow at RMIT University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2021.62335

Abstract

What is that queer plant that drapes itself chaotically over the top of trees and bushes? You know the one along the road on the way into town?

Ah yes! You mean the one with no leaves, that looks like tangled yarn caught up in the branches? 

Yes, it looks like its floating airborne on top of the canopy, smothering and embracing at the same time.

Well, that's the one with the common name of snotty gobble or Dodder-Laurel!!! Dodder may look chaotic but that only demands on how you view it.

I can’t stop thinking about it, Let’s find out what it’s doing.

‘Learning to be affected’ says Bruno Latour is to be 'moved, put into motion by other entities, humans or non-humans’(2004). And this is what happened to Down the Road Projects when we became intrigued with local plant parasites where we live in central Victoria, Australia. 

This paper explores how we became ensnared by planty agencies. By charting our multispecies and human interactions in the course of developing the art project, Becoming Differently (2018), we trace how parasites came to be an important theme of the art, how they infiltrated the art works, how they changed our understanding of parasites, how they enticed us into the bush and developed our style of collaboration.

We ‘queery’ what it means to be ‘drawn towards’ particular plants, we wonder who or what is ‘drawing’, and how these particular plants inflected our art and writing. We consider how we were moved towards different ways of figuring identity and belonging, and how we grappled with practices and modes of engagement with complex issues of identity, belonging and nature in a settler-colonial situation, and how this led to us to become differently entangled in the place where we live.

Author Biographies

Lesley Instone, Independent Scholar and Conjoint Senior Lecturer, University of Newcastle, Australia

Dr Lesley Instone is a cultural geographer whose work explores the material and embodied encounters and entanglements of humans and nonhumans in (mostly) Australian settler colonised lands. Her research experiments with different ways of paying attention and engaging performatively in the world and draws on a richly diverse theoretical landscape including science studies, feminism, postcolonialism, and more-than-human geographies. She has a particular interest in how affect, encounter and contingency shape relations, identities and worlds.

Rhett D'Costa, Honorary University Fellow at RMIT University

Rhett D’Costa was born in India and immigrated to Australia as a child with his family. His experiences as an Asian Australian inform his pan disciplinary art practice and research, from the use of colour to complex expressions of identity and belonging. These interests take into account shifting social and political circumstances and the tensions and consequences of mobility and migration in diverse environments. Rhett’s artistic research examines the agency and role an artist as researcher can have within these often precarious and unstable spaces. In a career spanning thirty years in art practice and tertiary art education, his particular focus has centred around the Asia-Pacific region.

References

ABC. 2020. Gardening Australia, Series 31, Episode 35. Broadcast 13 November.

Angelucci, Sara. 2020. “Arboretum: Figure as ground.” Antennae 51: 193–209.

Annear, Robyn. 2012. Nothing but Gold: The Diggers of 1852. Melbourne: Text Publishing.

Battson, Gilly. 2015. “Mycelium of the forest floor. And love.” Seasonalight (blog), 12 October. Accessed 10 December 2020. https://seasonalight.com/2015/10/12/mycelium-of-the-forest-floor-and-love/

Bennett, Jane. 2004. “The force of things: Steps toward an ecology of matter.” Political Theory 32 (3): 347–372. https://doi.org/10.1177/0090591703260853

Bennett, Jane. 2010. Vibrant Matter: A political ecology of things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822391623

Bolton, Michael. S. 2016. “William S. Burroughs, Michel Serres, and the Word Parasite.” Journal of Beat Studies 4: 1–15.

Bowker, Geoffrey C., and Susan Leigh Star. 2000. Sorting Things Out: Classification and its consequences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/6352.001.0001

Boyce, James. 2012. 1835: The Founding of Melbourne & the Conquest of Australia. Collingwood: Black Inc.

Chakraborty, Mridula Nath, and Anoma Pieris (with Denise Woods, Earvin Cabalquinto, Monika Winarnita, Nadia Rhook, Sukhmani Khorana, Timothy Kazuo Steains). 2019. “Welcome”, Genealogies of Identity Politics, Asian Australian Studies Research Network (AASRN) 7TH Biennial Conference on Asian Australian Identities, Immigration Museum, Melbourne, 7–8 November 2019. https://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/2013557/Asian-Australian-Identities-7-Conference-booklet.pdf

Chisholm, Diane. 2010. “Biophilia, creative involution, and the ecological future of queer desire.” In Queer Ecologies: Sex, nature, politics, desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, 359–381. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Cielemęcka, Olga, Marianna Szczygielska, and Catriona Sandilands. 2019. “Thinking the feminist vegetal turn in the shadow of Douglas-firs: an interview with Catriona Sandilands.” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, and Technoscience 5 (2): 1–19. https://doi.org/10.28968/cftt.v5i2.32863

D’Costa, Rhett. 2018. Becoming Differently, mixed media. The Substation, Newport, March 23–April 21, 2018, for the exhibition Hyphenated (2018), curated by Phuong Ngo and Tammy Wong Hulbert.

Deleuze, Giles, and Félix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. London: Athlone Press.

Forester, Peter. n.d. “Mistletoe dodder laurel, friend or foe?” ANGAIR (Anglesea, Aireys Inlet Society for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna). Accessed 22 June 2021. http://www.angair.org.au/2-uncategorised/745-mistletoe-dodder-laurel-friend-or-foe

Frost, Warwick. 2010. “Visitor Interpretation of the Environmental Impacts of the Gold Rushes at the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park.” In Mining Heritage and Tourism: A Global Synthesis, edited by Michael V. Conlin and Lee Joliffe, 97–107. London and New York: Routledge.

Gibson, Prudence. 2018. The Plant Contract: Art’s return to vegetal life. London: Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004360549

Giggs, Rebecca. 2020. Fathoms: The World in the Whale. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Gullestad, Anders. 2012. “Parasite.” Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon. Accessed 6 February 2018. https://www.politicalconcepts.org/anders-m-gullestad-parasite/

Haraway, Donna. 2016. “Companion Species, Mis-recognition, and Queer Worlding.” In Queering the Non/human, edited by Mira J. Hird and Noreen Giffney xxiii–xxvi. London and New York: Routledge.

Haraway, Donna. 2008. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

In Defense of Plants (blog). 2015. “A dose of dodder.” 30 September 2015. Accessed 12 January 2018. http://www.indefenseofplants.com/blog/2015/9/30/a-dose-of-dodder

Instone, Lesley. 2015. “Risky attachments for the Anthropocene.” In Manifesto for living in the Anthropocene, edited by Katherine Gibson, Deborah Rose, and Ruth Fincher, 25–30. Santa Barbara: Punctum Books.

Instone, Lesley. 2017. “A Post-Wilderness National Park: Naturecultures of Destruction and Recuperation in the Castlemaine Goldfields.” Environment & Society Portal, Arcadia 17 (Summer). Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society. http://www.environmentandsociety.org/node/7920

Instone, Lesley. 2018. “Entangled.” Essay for Becoming Differently. The Substation, Newport, March 23–April 21, 2018, for the exhibition Hyphenated (2018), curated by Phuong Ngo and Tammy Wong Hulbert.

Kirksey, Eben. 2019. “Queer love, gender bending bacteria, and life after the Anthropocene.” Theory, Culture & Society 36 (6): 197–219. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276418769995

Kriedemann, Paul. 1999. “Case Study 15.4 Plant Parasites.” In Plants in Action: Adaptation in Nature, Performance in Cultivation, edited by Brian J. Atwell, Colin G. N. Turnbull and Paul E. Kriedemann, 491–494. South Yarra: Macmillan Education Australia.

Latour, Bruno. 2004. “How to talk about the body? The normative dimension of science studies.” Body & Society 10 (2–3): 205–229. https://doi.org/10.1177/1357034X04042943

Leiff, Jon. 2014. “Is Dodder the most intelligent plant?” August 2014. Accessed 12 January 2018. http://jonlieffmd.com/blog/is-the-dodder-the-most-intelligent-plant

Lee, Tran Lam. 2021. “This Chinese restaurant will tell our Indigenous and Asian history through food.” SBS, 19 January. Accessed 22 June 2021. https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2021/01/19/chinese-restaurant-will-tell-our-indigenous-and-asian-history-through-food

Lunt, Ian. 2013. “Forgotten woodlands, future landscapes.” Accessed 20 December 2020. https://ianluntecology.com/2013/10/13/forgotten-woodlands-future-landscapes/

Marks, Lucy. 2018. “Did Aboriginal and Asian people trade before European settlement in Darwin?” ABC, 15 May. Accessed 22 June 2021. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-16/aboriginal-people-asians-trade-before-european-settlement-darwin/9320452

Mortimer-Sandilands, Catriona, and Bruce Erickson, eds. 2010. Queer Ecologies: Sex, nature, politics, desire. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Murphy, Stephen. 2021. “Cherry Ballart, Native Cherry Exocarpos cupressiformis.” Recreating the Country: Restoring Wild Australia. Accessed 22 December 2020. https://www.recreatingthecountry.com.au/exocarpos-cupressiformis-cherry-ballart.html

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. 1993. Tendencies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Serres, Michel. (1980) 2007. The Parasite. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Seymour, Nicole. 2013. Strange natures: futurity, empathy, and the queer ecological imagination. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. https://doi.org/10.5406/illinois/9780252037627.001.0001

Shintani, Midori. 2020. “Finding your own wild.” Gardens Illustrated 291 (September): 62. https://www.gardensillustrated.com/gardens/international/tokachi-millennium-forest-dan-pearson/

Stephenson, Peta. 2001. “Finding common ground: Indigenous and Asian diasporic cultural production in Australia.” Hecate 27 (2): 59–67.

Stephenson, Peta. 2003. “New cultural scripts: Exploring the dialogue between Indigenous and ‘Asian’ Australians.” Journal of Australian Studies 27 (77): 57–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/14443050309387851

Tsing, Anna. 2012. “Unruly Edges: Mushrooms as Companion Species: For Donna Haraway.” Environmental Humanities 1 (1): 141–154. https://doi.org/10.1215/22011919-3610012

Watson, David M. 2009. “Parasitic plants as facilitators: More Dryad than Dracula?” Journal of Ecology 97: 1151–1159. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2745.2009.01576.x

Watson, David M. 2011. Mistletoes of Southern Australia. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1071/9780643100831

Whitington, Paul. 2017. “Cassytha – a parasitic plant.” Southern Forest Life website, 12 July. Accessed 22 June 2021. https://southernforestlife.net/happenings/2017/7/10/cassytha-a-parasitic-plant.

Wolfe, Cary. 2007. “Bringing the noise: The Parasite and the Multiple genealogies of Posthumanism.” Introduction to the New Edition, Michel Serres, The Parasite, xviii–xix. Translated by Lawrence R. Schehr. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.

Zournazi, Mary. 2002. Hope: New philosophies for change. Annadale: Pluto Press.

Downloads

Published

01-11-2021

How to Cite

Instone, L., & D’Costa, R. (2021). Becoming Entangled: Queer Attachments with Hemiparasites. Performance Philosophy, 6(2), 61–81. https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2021.62335