bamboo roots, 24” diameter, 2010.
I’ve been growing bamboo for over a decade. I love the sound of its leaves rustling in the wind, the shadows it casts, the habitat it provides the birds, the materials it provides for my work and the green wall of privacy it provides for me and my home. It is not indigenous to North America, however, and it is disrupting my garden as it burrows underground and comes up in my native wildflowers and vegetables. It is said that bamboo can grow a foot a day and I believe it. I expect to see it breaking through my living floor any day now. I knew it was invasive, but, like many another experimenter with natural boundaries, I underestimated the repercussions for my own environment.
We dug the roots in World Tangle from my garden in the spring of 2010. I dug one root that was more than 12’ long. My involvement with bamboo could serve as a metaphor for the tangled complexity of my efforts to live harmoniously within an ethos of sustainability. The tangle is dense and complex, like a Gordian knot. It could be said to represent either a hopeless situation, or the sort of inverted chaos that portends a new order--the dawning clarity, too, which precedes effective action. To the extent that we are apart from nature, we have unprecedented power--in evolutionary terms--to modify the world, to its harm and our own. Our intelligence, applied to the manifold routes toward (in strictly human terms) "improvement," has created the problem. To the extent that we are part of nature, a manifestation of nature, the "problem" is ours to suffer or solve--provided, as seems increasingly uncertain, a solution is even possible. My Tangled World piece emblemizes both the Gordian nature of the knot we have unwittingly made of our habitation on earth and the uncertainty regarding how best to untangle it. I take this ambiguity to reflect a particular moment in history: the political, economic and evolutionary present.