Joss Vines, photography and urban installation with trash collected by the artist.
Extra Joss is a popular energy drink in powder available in Cambodia but illegal to sell in many other countries. Informal and low-paid workers with extensive working hours drink it in order to stay awake, with the little yellow packets being left behind in construction sites and on the side of the streets. This speed and stamina required for modern urban living is impacting environment in an overpowering way, fed as well by the increasing inequality between low-paid jobs in construction work and the luxury condominiums being built (where the workers could never dream of living).
This project imagines a post-humanity future where trash conquered the cities once lived by humans, with vines made by packets of Extra Joss growing on top of abandoned structures or crawling on the side of vacant buildings. Rather than pretending to be a dark foresight, this work aims to playfully construct a fictionalized image of the world where, perhaps, future archaeologists will try to understand which kind of existence their ancestor urban tribes had.
The process of creating the vines themselves, with each packet carefully cut and interlocked to the next one, functions as a metaphor to the environmental consequences of our actions as consumers. A chain reaction from the act of buying until the package or leftovers of the product end up in a landfill or ocean.
At the same time, Joss is also the name for the traditional incense sticks Asians burn in temples, borrowing another layer of meaning to the vines. Which faith in this current system and consumer society are we relying for our future? Maybe one day the Joss Vines will conquer us, or perhaps one day we will stop believing and quit consuming energy drinks to work so hard and finally have a good night of sleep. And offer some rest to our planet as well.
As part of the Microgalleries’ Disrupting Climate Disruption: a Global Day of Action (2019), Phnom Penh chapter.
A research paper as development of this project, A NEW KIND OF NATURE? as a prototype of Permaflux, a conceptual and socially-engaged art practice, was selected for the official catalog of Cheongju Craft Biennale 2021 in South Korea and won the bronze award in the Craft City Lab competition.