Arielle Casale has created several hundred tiny ceramic sculptures inspired by wasp galls, and dangled them on long fishing line from above. There they hang like stars, as if the host tree they were embedded in had suddenly gone invisible, leaving the galls suspended in mid-air. Casale not only has a great Flickr set of her works, but she has gone a step further in her written proposal for the project, where she takes to task the negative perception of gall wasps, and parasitism in general.
“It is my understanding that throughout an artist’s career, we are forced to evaluate our relationships to understand the degree at which they are symbiotic. Interactions with galleries, colleagues, instructors, students, employers etc; When we do something for another person who is involved in our field, there are a variety of instances that can occur… …Often only a matter of substantial time will reveal the either impending benefits or the clear evidence that our time has simply been wasted on an unrewarding cause.”
Symbiosis, the relationships between organisms, are often described by their named categories. If both parties benefit, it is mutualism. If only one party benefits, it is commensalism. If one organism is benefiting at the detriment of another, it is called parasitism. While those categories are still relevant, often times what scientists thought was mutualism turns out, upon closer study, to be parasitism. And some creatures termed ‘parasites’, turn out to have some measurable benefits for the host organism.
The more scrutiny a relationship receives, the more complicated and fascinating it gets! Just like any relationship, really.
Sometimes we’re the wasp, and sometimes we’re the Oak Tree. And sometimes, we’re both.
Would you believe there’s more cynipid-based art out there? Stay tuned!