top of page

in and as an ecosystem

September 23, 2022

October 22, 2022

Shannon Taylor-Jones

The self becoming an ecosystem and an ecosystem becoming the self.

Immersed into the active encounters of multi-species world-making, this compilation of compost focuses on the creative processes of living, being, and dying. Looking into the processes of plants, fungi, and other organic matter as non-linear practices of growth and decay, this environment exists as a manifestation of this animated network of beings and ways of being. Submerged into the underworld of plant and fungal embodiment, the self is a symbiont, entangled in an ecosystem of collaboration.

This exploration into the collaborative interdependencies of life stems from lived experience within the intersection of disability/neurodivergence/madness. Here, the disabled/neurodivergent/mad existence is understood as a natural way of being. I place the body in and as an ecosystem, a biome of relationships that are constantly both becoming and unbecoming. Corporeality is haunted by intimate kinship. That which is “human” is not separate from “nature,” but is deeply, intrinsically embedded within it. Art making is not an individual act, but a fertile collaboration of life, death, and the inbetween.

Within this setting, the pathologization of expressions of disability/neurodivergence/madness is questioned and examined. Through shared metaphors of ecology, expressions that are labelled as symptoms, traits, and limitations are reunited with their true definitions—as natural diversities. Variations in ways of knowing and learning—across identities and species—are given space. This does not ignore real harm, discomfort, and trauma; it acknowledges that structures, both societal and biological, have intrinsic significance to the understanding of these expressions.

The intersection of disability/neurodivergence/madness is a liminal place of being, an ecosystem of simultaneous, disparate truths, where growth and decay both thrive. Shared between disability and ecology are metaphors of rot and ruin, contamination, uncertainty, and impurity. Essential to life, the consistent undercurrents of death and grief are felt as biological and creative processes.

I am exploring detritus as the answer to one question and the ask of another. Existing as the layered (un)domestication of interwoven life forms, this work exists as fragments of larger processes. Through layers and intersections of care, the inevitability of transience remains.

I would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

bottom of page