13 Apr 24

‘We live in wild times; we bear witness to wild and ruinous places.' [1]

Wildness as a compost for the unconfined, unmanaged, underestimated, untamed , unnamed
Wildness as a dumping ground
Wildness as queer
Wildness as outside of categorization
Wildness as other
Wildness as unrestrained forms of embodiment
Wildness as opposed to fascist ideas of order, symmetry and purity
Wildness as playful
Wildness as not clean and not pure - undoing colonial fantasies of unpopulated, undiscovered, unspoiled space.

Jack Halberstam and Tavia Nyong'o's essay
Theory in the Wild explains wildness as where the environment speaks back, where communication bows to intensity, where worlds collide, cultures clash, and things fall apart.’ [2]

Within plant contexts there is an abundance in wildness that offers a rich patterning of playful and entangled worlds, compared to the anthropocentric ordering of botanical gardens. Through an imposed static and surreal curation of plants there is an attempt to have power over a ‘clean’ nature - meticulously curating the spaces, often through the removal of messy or non-aesthetically pleasing plant matter.

What ends up in the compost?

The dismissal of plants considered ‘weeds’ that get discarded on the compost pile, in turn become generative mulch that sustains. These unassuming plants that go unnoticed or pushed to the margins often are those with many medicinal and healing properties - nettle, mugwort, yarrow, plantain, dock, dandelion etc.

Whilst I have come to ideas of wildness through organic ecologies, environment and queerness, there are many other experiences, concepts and social constructs that can be explored through the context of wild theory. As Jack Halberstam acknowledges in Wild Things, ‘while the wild is tethered to nature in our imaginations, or to one particular version of nature, wildness is not limited to the natural world, and it has an extensive life elsewhere too — in aesthetics, politics, theory, and desire”.

[1] Jack Halberstam and Tavia Nyong’o, Theory in the Wild
[2] Jack Halberstam and Tavia Nyong’o, Theory in the Wild