Artist Talk- Beatrice Glow: Searching for Inclusive Futures in the Capitalocene

Hello everyone, I’m Beatrice Glow and I’m very honored to share my work today within the context of exhibition Meteorological Mobilities curated by Marianna Tsionki at apexart. Now I want to use this opportunity today to dive into the process behind several threads and my practice that leveraged art as a multi-sensory storytelling tool to shift dominant narratives. The first part will focus on the research creation using social history of plants as vignettes into how extractive economies and trade networks are built on difficult histories of violence, dispossession and enslavement- the processes that led to the Capitalocene, our current geological epoch defined by the irrevocable impact capitalism has had on planetary health. Then, I will share how after researching botanical colonialism how I started to ask myself what an inclusive future looks like? A process that pushed me to work in allyship with the original peoples caring for the land and waters and then finally I will share how I’m now reckoning with our arrival in the Capitaloscene through my current project, Smoke Trails The very questions of sovereignty, erasure, and belonging motivate my practice due to the multiple colonialisms in my parents’ homeland, Taiwan. My mother’s village is an Ami stronghold. This is an image from the region where she grew up in Southeast Taiwan where for millennia Austronesian outrigger canoes have set sail and, through long distance voyaging, settled throughout the Great Ocean. The mantra “All islands are connected underwater” guides my relational worldview My trajectory began retracing 19th century Asian “coolie” labor in Peru. This is a map of a two-year journey through plantations, guano mines, following railroads, researching in cemeteries, and finally arriving in the Amazon River Basin in a village called Chino where no Chinese live. During this time, I became aware of the intersecting realities of, and intentions between, indigenous and formerly enslaved peoples, settlers, and migrants Understanding myself as a visible, racialized settler in Americas, I often work in allyship with indigenous communities to resist complicity in settler-colonialism During this time in Peru, I also started to look at art history to understand the origins of racial hierarchy from a Eurocentric perspective. I really think this painting (Pinturas Castas) by Miguel Cabrera I really kind of sums up the ways in which the European idea of categorizing human beings by racial hierarchy is a very dehumanizing process similar to the ways in which plants were depicted in this time period I look at botanical illustrations and I see not just a scientific illustration but actually whole layers of world views. This is an image of a nutmeg and it is splayed open, dissected and cut apart for easy classification and I don’t see any difference between the ways animals and plants and humans are drawn to be easily classifiable under a Eurocentric- dominant worldview This kind of thinking led to a project in 2016 called Aromérica Parfumeur As I mentioned, there’s an ongoing thread in my work and it’s the social history of plans to bring forth intertwine histories of othering and extraction In 2016, I created an exhibition, Aromérica Parfumeur, at the National Museum of Fine Arts of Chile with the Museos sin muros (Museums Without Walls) program. I intervened in a shopping mall with the facade of a perfume boutique and delved into the extractive histories of botanical expeditions and colonial commerce during the early modern period The title, Aromérica, was a play on aroma and America, referencing the family narratives of Americas being based on a search for aromatic spices And Parfumeur, meaning perfumer in French, comes from the word parfum, which means through smoke Through the fumes, parfum, lies a botanical narrative that connects the Americas to the search for spices of Asia and a moment of global shift when Columbus arrived in the Americas and was offered tobacco by the natives Through the fumes frames American origins through the lens of a settler colonial extractive economy, a depletive business model of exploiting and polluting the land and waters. This is an image of the interior of my boutique that became more of a museographic display looking at archives, referencing botanical colonialisms The gallery was actually named after Amerigo Vespucci, the namesake of Americas, so I thought it was definitely an interesting place to intervene. And so I created a scent called Spice Hunters wherein

conquistadores, who are often praised as the great explorers of the early modern period, are just spice hunters The question of the exhibition was: What does colonialism smell like? I tried to answer that by looking at spices of our lucrative commodities For example, Oro Negro (black pepper) was one of the scents here Another one is Blanc Le Colonial, white meaning white sugar and also guano To the left here we have Taboo, for tobacco To the center, Eau de Colón, that had chocolate and cinnamon scents and the word colón here, eau de colón, is not spelled like the typical one we see where c-o-l-o-g-n-e but c-o-l-ó-n, in reference to Columbus And to the right, El Picante, a reference to El Dorado, the search for gold El Picante here references nutmegs and cloves and it’s a story that I kind of want to delve a little bit more into here The story, El Picante, nutmegs and cloves, led me to research about this island we see here, Rhun In 1667, the road map was redrawn when the Dutch traded the island of Manhattan for the English colony, Rhun, in Indonesia’s Banda Island archipelago In an attempt to monopolize the nutmeg trade, this momentous land exchange of New York for Rhun over spices precipitated change that set in motion unstoppable ways of displacements, migrations, and lay the grounds for economic systems that shape our lives til today I also learned in this process of researching that the Austronesians also settled in the Banda Islands I became really obsessed as the shared histories of these two islands, Manhattan and Banda, also tie New York to Austronesian cultures, forming another connection across our global archipelago I decided to make a sculptural and olfactory installation called Rhunhattan Tearoom that referenced colonial commerce during this time period through the usage of bloody delftware Delftware is what a lot of Dutch folk arts is kind of known for today where they produce blue and white porcelain or tableware and I wanted to kind of reference how that tableware has a history that traces back to trying to imitate the fine porcelain coming out of Asia So it kind of links together Asia and Europe and their shared aesthetics and that time period of early modern trade history And this installation space was imbued with scents from the spice trade including scents such as pepper, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon that kind of took over the space before visitors even reached the exhibition space I believe that materials and objects carry history and I asked, if objects of colonial commerce could speak, what would they say? In response, I layered archival images depicting colonial atrocities onto porcelain I wonder if these objects would also speak about how the Dutch, in 1621, annihilated 15,000 Bandanese people – which is 90 percent of the population The world’s first genocide led by multinational company, The Dutch East India Company, took place in 1621 in this fort, Fort Nassau of the Banda islands of Indonesia in pursuit of cornering the nutmeg trade Researching this difficult history that took place in Fort Nassau of the Banda Islands, featured in the image to the left, led to the realization that it is the same shape as Fort Amsterdam of lower Manhattan in the map shown here from 1676, on the right hand side, which is another massacre site of the Lunaape people, the original peoples of this estuarial region that New York City is part of I wondered how it was that two islands that were exchanged for each other- one, by the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company were both dominated by and marked by star-shaped forts What are these visually revealing patterns of exploitation and violence? Today, on top of the foundations of Fort Amsterdam, of lower Manhattan sits the US Customs House that now houses the Smithsonian National Museum of American Indian and the George Gustav Heye Center in lower Manhattan This is the customs officers room, featured in the bottom of the slide, where 70% of American wealth passed through during the earlier half of the 20th century Paintings of former Dutch colonies still hang in that room including one of the Banda Islands

I started looking at other star forts and learned that roughly 17 to 30 survivors of the Banda genocide were enslaved by the Dutch East India Company to build Fort Zeelandia in southern Taiwan, my parents homeland I also learned that the invention of gunpowder created a forceful smoke that led to a new fort architecture during the 16th to 19th centuries and populated the world wherever Dutch, Portuguese and English traders and military forces prevailed Gunpowder heralded in these early forms of panopticons, bastion forts doubling as trading posts and spice warehouses This is Fort Belgica in the Banda Islands at present day Indonesia This is Fort Jay, another star-shaped fort, on Governors Island of New York City which was formerly called Nut Island by the Dutch due to the chestnuts that grew on the island This is Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the star fort reference in the Star-Spangled Banner, our national anthem I suspect the Pentagon took architectural cues from the star forts Also, this shopping mall in Shanghai- capitalism, militarism and extractive economies are all embodied in this one form. While using a drone to film star forts in Banda, I started to see that their forms echoed each other The drone can be weaponized and this camera transforms it into a roaming panopticon The 21st century aerial military technology dominates land in the same spirit as the early modern period military technology of star forts The star, a celestial divine symbol, has become a death bomb from the sky Coming back to the layered histories of Banda and Manhattan, I really see the relationship between these two islands embodying that entire history of globalism Highlighted here in pink is Rhun overlaid over Manhattan I’ve really, really reflected on how, during the 17th century, let’s call it by its original name, Mannahatta, was seen from the colonial perspective as a backwater trading post while Rhun or the Banda Islands was a coveted spice Island 7x smaller Yet, today one is a financial capital while the other has become obscure I wondered if there is a way in which, as an artist, I could collapse a time in space between the two islands and create a project that falls within all these histories of dispossession, colonial violence, enslavement, forced migrations, extractive histories, and distorted relationships to resource and land So, with that, in 2017, I visited the Banda Islands to meet culture and knowledge bearers to see if they care to connect with New York and the Lunaape people in order to connect on shared histories and environmental futures “Hello! Welcome to Manhattan Island, Rhun It’s nice place, beautiful island, small of the people, yes. Beautiful coral in the sea and many, many fish, ok!” [Music and applause] [Music and applause] [Drums and music] [Sounds of work and conversation, laughter] [Drum, percussion and music] [Music and singing] [School kids singing laughing] I also shared in a talk on the islands this image by ecologist Dr. Eric Sanderson from the Mannahatta

project that digitally reconstructs New York in 1609, prior to Dutch colonization and the juxtaposition of the current New York skyline Mannahatta was once a biologically diverse place, with over 55 ecosystems, due to the careful stewardship of original peoples. When I share that with the Bandanese, they were so surprised about the lesser-known histories in New York that they never see a mainstream media and said “Let’s swap our islands again” During that time period of Rhunhatta, when I was researching the patterns of exploitative trade networks and a lesser-known, foundational, global histories that tie New York to Asia and the Pacific region in 2016, something really historic was going on as well. Hōkūleʻa, a Polynesian double-hulled canoe was circumnavigating the world with the message ‘Mālama Honua’ meaning ‘To care for Mother Earth’ and they were on their way to New York City and they said that in order to arrive they need to make first contact with the native peoples in New York. This awakened a very painful realization that many of us who live in New York knew very little about native New York and the need to care about the territory we live in. In 2016, I was an artist and resident at the Asian Pacific American Institute at NYU. So, we started to collaborate with the Native American and Pacific culture bearers, ecologists and technologists to develop the Wayfinding Project, a lab and augmented reality exhibition inspired by the stewardship of the Polynesian Voyaging Society that was making this worldwide, circumnavigation of Hōkūleʻa possible And we were inspired by their cultural revitalization and the philosophy of wayfinding, the ancient technology and deep knowledge of understanding how to read the sky, the water, the relations between non-human relations in order to cross long distances across the great ocean. Heeding this deep knowledge we were inspired to expand and document our knowledge of native New York, heeding the knowledge of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Our intention was to uncover the nuanced process and overlaps of dispossession, enslavement, force migrations, and diasporas of the original peoples of the land and also to prepare for the necessary cultural protocols to welcome hokule’as arrival in Mannahatta I want to share this video of the Shinnecock people traveling down Mahicannitukw, the Hudson River, to greet Hōkūleʻa For the wayfinding project, I also drew a map locating Mannahatta in the

traditional homeland of the Lenape peoples. The island was always a gathering place where native peoples came to trade and in that process I learned that Broadway is actually part of a matrix of Lenape pathways that connect lower Manhattan to the greater Northeast region as shown in the map on the right hand side of this drawing As part of this learning process the wayfinding project at NYU, we wanted to do a land acknowledgement Now what does land acknowledgement actually mean? It’s become quite popular in recent years but for us we didn’t want it to just be a verbal acknowledgement as a liberal pass to say that we’re on native land and move on with our work We want to go beyond verbal recognition of the original peoples and their homes and actually participate actively in anti-colonial work by telling the truth of the place in order to start building a public commons for equitable power relations We tried to spur renewed consciousness on the layered history of Manhattan Together we created a public installation, “Lenapeway”, in 2016 on Broadway in the original pathway acknowledging the native Lenape peoples on Indigenous Peoples Day On installation day, I learned that one of the art handlers actually had Lenape ancestry. The land responded In the middle of the exhibition was this map that helped passerbys locate themselves in Mannahatta in relationship to previous Lenape settlements To supplement “Lenapeway” I continued my work with ecologists, historians, native culture bearers to create Mannahatta VR, an interactive room- scale virtual reality experience and visions of pre-colonial realities and tells the histories of dispossession that reimagines sustainable futures under indigenous, environmental stewardship Through this work we ask, how can we mutually expand and document our understanding of indigenous Manhattan? How can we tell different stories? And can using VR to envision an alternative future actually help us effect change? The early version of the experience begins on a digitally reconstructed Broadway where this tree is revealed to be part of the matrix of indigenous pathways our plants are identified by their Lenape names Navigating the virtual environment, one finds a bow and arrow to shoot the Netherlands monument that commemorates the purchase in Manhattan- the misconception that Lenape sold Manhattan to the Dutch for $24 worth of trinkets Upon toppling the monument in the experience, native culture bearers appear holographically to speak about environmental stewardship and the histories of dispossession In the experience, one can see constellations representing the turtle clan, the turkey clan, and the wolf clan during a work session where we first shared our work in progress with a delegation and Lunaapeew culture bears, Curtis Zunigha of the Delaware Tribe of Indians in Oklahoma said that he thought he could shoot an arrow into the sky and that he would be transported to be with his ancestors With Mannahatta VR, one encounters volumetric scans, 180 degree recordings of elders speaking about their experiences as contemporary native peoples I like for you to meet Lunaapeew culture bears, father and son, Brent and Xander Stonefish who appear in this excerpted video documentation of Mannahatta VR [Chanting, singing] [birds chirping] [Singing] Through is ongoing work, community partners have embraced working with new media as a long-term strategy for culture and language preservation. This medium may convey the power of all of traditions where the written word, especially English, a colonial language, fails to communicate affect and care. As non natives, myself and the creative technologists involved in this work, we see our roles as preparing a foundation so that one day Lunaapeew Youth can take this new media project into their own

hands We as allies are placeholders while the communities have to deal with more urgent internal matters. I started to understand from a much deeper place what it means to work from a land-based perspective. To see myself as being part of a larger ecosystem This brings me back to an important native plant, tobacco, that I included as part of the Aromérica Parfumeur exhibition Tobacco is one of the first global luxury products and universal currencies Tobacco is intertwined with the ruptures and waves of world history. From a sacred Native American plant to a cash crop that motivated the transatlantic slave trade, the affluence of a few planters and merchants was tied to the labor of countless enslaved peoples In 2017, the global tobacco industry earned over 850 billion dollars I ponder the phenomenon of cultivating a plant only to be combusted for ephemeral pleasures How did this all start? Tobacco comes from a Taíno word When the Europeans first arrived in the Americas they were astonished by the smoking habit while some took on the habits others found it demonic to have smoke spewing for the nostrils Jamestown, the first English colony, survived because of English motivation to turn a profit with tobacco Racial capitalism and tobacco are deeply intertwined with American foundations The first English transatlantci slave trader, John Hawkins was also the first tobacco merchant Sometimes tobacco was actually used as a currency to buy slaves in West Africa During my research last summer at the National Numismatics Collections at the Smithsonian Institution, I saw this tobacco tax stamp to the left of the slide that depicts an enslaved person The $2 bill to the right depicts an enslaved woman carrying tobacco leaves with her child, smiling in the process Histories of labor and racial inequity are sanitized by images like this featuring woman wearing a tobacco leaves dress or cringe-worthy red face pin ups In 2016, I was invited to exhibit at the James B. Duke House, a millionaire row mansion in Manhattan’s Upper East Side that currently houses NYU Institute of Fine Arts program It is also the former family home of Doris Duke. This mansion was built from the revenue generated by the American tobacco company I exhibited a series of digital prints on silk that each tell a social history of a plant that transformed the world. This one here is my piece, Banda Islands Archipelago, Nutmeg and Cloves, in the mansion’s smoking-room Here is black pepper Afghan poppies in the ballroom with military camouflage layered onto the piece And this one is tobacco right in the ballroom For a public program, “Empire of Smoke: legacy of tobacco”, I invited Lunaape elder George Stonefish, a native New Yorker who grew up in the Upper East Side to smudge the Duke house We also invited historian Gunja Sengupta to speak about the entanglements of tobacco and enslavement in America Having realized a show in the smoking room of the house though out of the profits of the American Tobacco Company, I wanted to dive deeper into what is the smoking room. It’s a place where the patriarchy makes decisions over a puff and have often set in motion patterns of inequity Through these French interior drawings titled “Design for a Moorish Smoking Room” in the collections of the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, I see that they were often based on the Orientalist fantasies opulently burning up wealth Some say that one of the reasons the French supported American independence was in order to secure better tobacco trade deals with the many founding fathers who were tobacco and hemp plantation owners Smoking rooms are the backrooms, the board rooms, the boardroom, the situation room, a men-only private club, the secret vaulted rooms shrouded behind the smoke screen However, in early diplomatic history, when the English, and later on the American government, negotiated with Native American leaders, the council’s smoked tobacco pipes with the tobacco smoke being a direct communication line to the creator. Tobacco smoking was a diplomatic protocol. From native cultural perspectives, smoke has way as it carried true intentions while the written word was just a talking paper There are hand painted lithograph illustrations that feature prominent Native American leaders that visited Washington DC to negotiate treaties. Pipes are visible in these illustrations Shown here is Lenape Chief Tishcohan and Seneca Chief Ki-On-Twoc-Ky Corn Planter

I also was invited to take on a global perspective on tobacco smoke that goes beyond the Western Hemisphere. Within Manila Acapulco Galleon Trade connecting Asia and America since the mid 16th century tobacco quickly became popular in Asia In Chinese, its mesmerizing smoke is dubbed 金金金 絲 煙 Golden Silk Smoke. Golden Silk Smoke inspired new decorative arts such as snuff bottles and boxes in Asia and Europe. Golden silk smoke is literally embodied in this gorgeous portable tobacco set with golden streams of smoke clouds engraved and be speckled with gold dust. This Japanese painting on silk of a female smoker speaks to tobacco’s far-reaching cultural and economic influence. Perhaps through the Japanese and Chinese colonization in Taiwan, smoking reached the Atayal people in the mountains. Beyond tobacco smoke, rising smoke has long been used in spiritual practices worldwide. This is a church incense burner from Ethiopia, smoking scenes in the mughal court in India and even in the US Treasury specimens book they include a rising smoke prayer scene on a continental banknote. The book also included this image of the smokers. I also was curious about tobacco advertisement as the mass circulation of images powerfully permeates collective imaginaries I wonder what viral images accompanied smoke and what is the after image of smoke in the archives? I found references to the peace-pipe used in the negotiation of treaties between William Penn and the Lenape, racialized images revealing power dynamics, power relations between white, brown and black bodies, New York Studios that were designing for a Cuban export market were also reimagining Spanish and native relations They define archetypes They created Orientalist imagery deployed on American tobacco brands I also found a settler colonial rig game where the cowboy holds all the Aces And the labor force toiling the land was not to be hidden but to be boasted about Smoke is also a visual symbol to understand cultural shifts Looking at the collection of obsolete banknotes in the Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection from roughly 1820 to 1860 before American federal currency was standardized, I saw a construction of national narratives where different types of smoke, and the emergence of new archetypal characters and technologies signal cultural shifts. While the early republic was largely an agrarian society rooted in the land, as shown above here in the plantation bank note, we also started to see the emergence of various codified, sanitized, romanticized representations of Native American figures questioning the rising vapour from steamboats and trains from afar Industrial development and advant and new technologies brought in other polymorphous visuals including locomotion and smokestacks. And gunpowder began to appear As part of my research I also got to smell century-old black gunpowder and witness smoke rings This work sums it all up By artists Justino Herrera titled “That is No Longer our Smoke Sign” shows an atomic bomb rising from Washington D.C. further signaling a departure from a land-based smoke signal to a different worldview where diplomacy with smoke is replaced by tactics of complete obliteration I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that our world is on fire right now Via the media our digital smoke screens assault our senses with misinformation. The fake news obfuscate us with donut bombs to conceal truth The smoke show conceals a very difficult reality that environmental protection policies are being stripped away in America. That oil spills and leaking pipelines are more prevalent than we think Tear gas smoking out protesters against greenhouse and gas emissions, attacking migrants. The hazy mist of disinfectant sprays against Covid-19 Last year as smoke engulfed Norte Dame, it marked another moment of cultural shift as together we watched in horror as a global patrimony combusted perhaps symbolizing a loss of faith I’m also thinking about my home state California as well as Amazonia and Australia The smoke from the Kīlauea volcanic eruption in Hawaii reminds us that as we humans try to dominate the land, earth is alive and is beyond our control. Perhaps that is the fire what indigenous activist Winona LaDuke says is the shifting relations between First Nations and the settler colonial society to move towards one of harmony and justice

Climate catastrophe is an intersectional issue, an accumulation of depletive economics and smoke announces the arrival of the Capitaloscene I spent the past couple years painting smoke, a process that expanded my thinking about smoke a polymorphic substance that serves as a metaphor for the arc of human history. Representing an ungraspable state of transformation, smoke has always been present in worship, cremation, engines and warfare. Smoke stands for moments of transformation, acts of warship and communing with the divine Technological advancements, military might, steam and vapor, to the smokestacks of industrialization and bombings in cremation What are the smoke signals of today? I am now working on smoke trails, a multimedia installation consisting of a video, 3D printed and ceramic sculptures and holographic display that blurs fact and fiction to tell the story of a quadrillion era family called Empire of smoke and those impacted by their actions. This work scrutinizes questionable wealth provenance and equitable power dynamics and structures colonialists and extractivist trade histories, toxic human ecology relations that altogether led to the development of the Capitaloscene. Our present geological epoch defined by the irrevocable impact capitalism has on planetary health. Set in 2040 the Empire smoke relocated into a bunker and its climate catastrophes and ceaseless pandemics, they left behind a collection that offers a glimpse into their murky dealings ranging from tobacco plantations to investments in explosives engineering, smokestacks, cloud computing data centers, and body odor biometric sensors. This video is a work in progress featuring the Empire Smoke family mansion smoking room where decisions are made. This project is currently in early production phase as I just finished researching the weight of smoke my collaborator and I are generating 3d models of real and pseudo artifacts that reference smoke’s social history, that reference affluent merchants and planters and the exploited native and formerly enslaved peoples. Some of these include pipes used in the early American to put diplomacy protocols, tobacco jars decorated with racially-charged archival imagery, gunpowder artillery grenades, tear gas canisters, e-cigarettes wrapped in early US currency featuring enslaved peoples, and a candelabra made of a founding father plantation owner figure holding hemp and tobacco leaves To provide counter-narratives to speak to power will also share multivocal perspectives from frontline communities impacted by inequitable decision-making processes including native culture bearers who are fighting environmental injustices. The virtual environment will further be used to create 3d videos for holographic displays. My hopes are that Smoke Trails creates a space for grappling with how climate change is unstoppable yet we can strive to amplify a frontline community voices in order to raise support for harm reduction. This work of unravels power, luxury and inequality to build literacy for a just and generative economic system. Through experimental usage of emerging media to connect history with current crises, I want to reach young people and share how these interwoven histories impact their futures and support them finding a sense of agency to the voices and elders. Smoke encompasses human relationship to nature, imagination and commerce. As money burns like the ashless smoke of e-cigarettes, the“Digital Smoke Signal” is a metaphor for our emerging virtual world that is hurtling toward a new value system based on digital assets, instagram-likes and cryptocurrency and so forth, It signals a departure for land-based values of local economies to one of the cloud that is controlled by major corporations. Server clouds are buried under the ocean that are heating up our oceans until evaporate skyward a full cycle like the tobacco jar that recalls an urn ashes to ashes I end on this image of e-cigarettes Vape sales in 2018 was estimated to be worth 43 billion dollars What does is say about value when smokers are burning through money that then evaporate into the clouds? Vaping has an ashless smoke that is a departure from the rising smoke of an ancient sacred plant as you spiral into a dematerialized world

As people plug their e-cigarettes devices for charging by drawing energy from usb ports, it seems like the smoke they are sending up are metaphorical clouds and that the emails we send to satellites are digital prayers guiding us into the future “what are the future smoke signals beckoning?” As Curator Alana Staiti said: follow the money, follow the power and you will arrive at the cloud During this nebulous present I question my own practice and whether smoke trails can support shifting power dynamics so that the decision making for socially and environmentally-just future can be more transparent instead of being the game of a few