A drop ceiling of kudzu is suspended overhead to suggest a fairy tale tunnel to an unknown place. The mass of plant material, for a person suffering from botanophobia, the fear of plants, the scene might strike horror, just as it would for a botanist, a scientist studying plants.
Kudzu, the vegetative bane of the southeastern United States, is highly regarded in the Far East, where it is native. The roots and leaves are said to have a sweet flavor when used in salads, or cooked. Kudzu’s medicinal benefits range from an anti-inflammatory to a cancer preventative; it is used as a hangover cure and to reduce alcohol cravings.
The plant was imported to the US for its erosion reduction potential. It quickly grew out of control, replacing native species. In the US there has been little economic exploitation.
Passage addresses my long fascination and fear of kudzu. As a child, visiting the South from my Northeastern home, the sight of kudzu overtaking the landscape of trees and hills, filled me with dread. These days, I consider the plant from a different point-of-view. I question how this most abundant of raw materials has been over looked; it can be exploited for profit and public good. For Americans it can be used for food, medicine, perhaps fuel. The only pitfall to this type of activity is over use, which could eliminate the erosion control function, which is now the only benefit we gain from kudzu.
Installation from Dead Flowers, curated by Susan Cipcic, Eyedrum