RHUNHATTAN // September 15-October 25th //Installation view, Sunroom Project Space, Wave Hill, Bronx, NY // Acrylic and decal collage on ceramics, ink on paper // Dimensions variable // Photo: Stefan Hagen
"Glow’s installation, Rhunhattan, converts the Sun Porch into a tearoom with sights and scents that reference the Spice Trade, which ushered in an era of globalization. Glow seeks to evoke the history of a land exchange that took place in 1667, when the Dutch, eager to monopolize the Spice Islands, swapped Manhattan for Rhun, an island seven times smaller, which had been held by the English. Today, Manhattan is a financial capital, while Rhun, located in what is present-day Indonesia, has faded into obscurity. Inspired by Wave Hill’s greenhouses—spaces Glow sees as designed to tame otherworldly tropical plants—the artist creates an analogous structure, approaching “the Sun Porch as a pristine tearoom that attempts to contain the insanity, greed and desire of commerce.” Intended to reflect the erasure of colonial histories, the space includes olfactory pieces that exude sweet and pungent scents from objects interspersed throughout the installation. On exhibit are dishes decorated with depictions of the atrocities that took place in Rhun at the hands of European traders, as well as cartographical drawings and archival imagery relating to this freighted history. The design of the dishes alludes to the history of exportation from Asia to Europe, specifically Delftware, tin-glazed, blue and white pottery made in the Netherlands; Delftware developed in the 17th century with the influence of Chinese porcelain when Dutch potters began imitating the popular style of this luxury Asian import. By creating this sensory feast, Glow invites viewers to engage with the dark realities underpinning the gilded tearoom."
-Gabriel de Guzman, Curator of Visual Arts
I infused my sculptures with a blend of scents, using spices and herbs that have been at the center of colonial commerce and conflict during the Age of Discovery. Dominant notes include nutmeg, mace, cloves, black pepper from Malabar coast, patchouli and cinnamon. Historically, spices have been held in high regard as medicine. They have been used in religious rites, act as status symbols fit only for royals and nobles and have even served as aphrodisiacs. They were literally “to die for.” As writer Jack Turner puts it, spice is the “taste that launched thousands of ships.” Visitors to the show can be seduced and repulsed altogether by the scent—which is a metaphor for the stench of money, at which I am pointing. As visitors leave the gallery and the scent dissipates, so does their memory of it evaporate.
Photo: Stefan Hagen
Photo: Stefan Hagen
Rhunhattan [Cartographic Series, Pulau Rhun], Ink on "Skin" paper, 2015, Beatrice Glow
Photo: Stefan Hagen
Rhunhattan [Cartographic Series, Banda Sea], Ink on "Skin" paper, 2015, Beatrice Glow
The teapot has two sides whose center images are of Dutch massacres of islanders and Dutch soldiers torturing English merchants in the Spice Islands. The all over pattern are drawings of mace. Photo: Beatrice Glow
Rhunhattan [Cartographic Series, Manhattan and Surrounding Environs during the Dutch Period], Ink on "Skin" paper, 2015, Beatrice Glow
These plates depict a ripe nutmeg emerging from its placenta and nutmeg still enveloped in its mace placenta. The border of the plates depict volcanic imageries as first seen by European traders when approaching the islands.
Photo: Beatrice Glow
Rhunhattan [Cartographic Series, Manhattan and Fort Amsterdam], Ink on "Skin" paper, 2015, Beatrice Glow
Rhunhattan: An Interview with Beatrice Glow A conversation with Danni Shen, Curatorial Fellow in Visual Arts, at Wave Hill
Floating Library aboard the Lilac Museum Steamship
Floating Library on Columbia University's New Learning Times
ACAW Field Meeting Take 2: An Afterthought as part of My Art Guides: Venice Meeting Point