When Plants Migrate

At any given moment, a person changes depending on their context. Whether the context is what they ate for lunch, the way that they slept or the air that surrounds them, each stimulus influences the person to some degree. The water, the soil, the rock and the social and cultural contexts within which they exist – these all play a part in defining someone’s way of being. Nowadays, migration has a different meaning depending upon the subject to which the word is applied. When birds migrate, we understand a borderless flight, a natural and seasonal phenomenon. For some, bird migration is the occasion for humans to hunt, for others the chance for rare and transient observation. But bird migration is impermenant, seasonal. What of migration that lasts? When plants migrate, as they did in the past due to ice encroachment (Trefil, 1998), they tend to do so slowly; except when some plants migrate, they are considered to invade. Their success in their new habitat, their speed of arrival – means that they are considered not to “belong”. This becomes even more complicated when migration is applied to humans. Such is human preoocupation with judgement and control that land and water has been divided up into parcels to be protected and profited from, such that personhood is linked to that human’s national origin and that of their forebears. And this knowledge is often used to divide and discriminate and exclude rather than to embrace a rich tapestry woven of each individual’s uniqueness. Kat Austen began somewhere and traveresed hills, mountains, cities, oceans, rivers and ice floes to be where she is now, writing this statement. And who and when she is will have changed by the time that you read it.

Exhibition:

When Plants Migrate
As part of Homo Migratio, Jeju Museum of Art in Jeju Stone Culture Park
19th September 2023 – 26th November 2023

Austen’s 4 channel sound installation will be presented in collaboration with Sookyun Yang’s immersive video work of the same name.