Rhizome
Wave Hill, New York, 2011
October 22-December 1, 2011

Rhizome focuses on the Ginger rhizome, a household cooking ingredient with locally well know medicinal uses in India and China, whose genes have been patented by pharmaceutical corporations for commercial use. This project draws attention to the ways in which systems of knowledge have been, and continue to be colonized.

Premnath constructs a leaning octagonal wooden framework as a container for a miniature garden of Ginger plants. The form of this octagonal frame is borrowed from a “Pillbox” – a term that refers both to the small box in which one may carry one’s medicines, as well as a small, partly underground fort used as a military outpost. This landscape “under siege” will serve as a kind of island that is neither here nor there, a space of ambiguity where ownership is as yet undecided.

India and China still lead in the global production and export of ginger, which like many other fruits and vegetables, travels through complex global networks from small rural farms, to trucks, to sorting facilities, to cargo ships, and finally to grocery stores around the world. Therefore the figure of the rhizome also serves as a metaphor for this and other global genetic dispersals.

While, on one register the Rhizome draws attention to biopolitics, the prints of reconfigured rhizomes also draw attention to the politics of photography, which codifies the world by asserting itself as simultaneously reality and representation – reality seamlessly turned into information.

Rhizome is closely related to Premnath’s 2008 project Contraband which was comprised of three aluminum trunks containing species of medicinal plants local to India, also sourced from Vandana Shiva’s “Biopiracy Factsheets”