Glow’s installation at Cuchifritos consists of a new body of work that tells the social history of spices as a bloody continuum of exploitation, extraction, and land dispossession. She created a series of digital prints on silk drawing upon historical depictions of the spice trade combined with her own drawings that are inspired by botanical research to illuminate the transhistoric weight of spices, silks and colors that have propelled forward countless caravans and ships in the birthing of globalization. The artist considers these silk prints as objects that sit between the resemblance of Mantones de Manila and oriental rugs, objects that embody a long history of trade, cultural circulations and mystique. The transparent and weightless quality of silk evokes the ghosts of history that invisibly shape our present while starkly contrasting historical gravity.
During the Spice Wars in the 17th century, nutmeg was worth its weight in gold, and its trees grew only on the Moluccas Islands of Indonesia. One of the smallest of these islands, Rhun, was considered the first English overseas colony, and its people and resources were quickly war-torn by competing Western powers. Rhunhattan, Beatrice Glow’s installation in Wave Hill’s Sunroom Project Space, not only ruminates on a particular colonial history, but also brings into question the many trajectories which continue to develop out of complex networks of globalization. The aestheticizing of violence, colonialism and environmental exploitation only continue to morph and expand. Today, Manhattan is an economic capital of the world, while Rhun has disappeared from Western memory. Despite Dutch attempts, in 1665, to destroy Rhun’s remaining natural resources, nutmeg trees continue to grow on the island today. Glow’s work is an effort to uncover these forgotten histories, as well as enduring legacies. In advance of the Artist’s TalkSaturday afternoon, October 24, in Glyndor Gallery, Danni Shen, Curatorial Fellow in Visual Arts, discussed Rhunhattan, cross-cultural narratives, art-making with spices, and more with Glow.