The friction between “good” and “evil” is the center of Piyatat Hematat’s recent exhibition.
This exhibition project experiments with artistic possibilities to engage creatively and productively with the controversy-ridden debate on the therapeutic and recreational use of certain plant-derived narcotics. Rather than stepping into the bipolar camps that supports the legalisation or prohibition of particular psychoactive plants, Eden offers an alternative narrative to stimulate fresh ways of thinking and perceiving about substance use and abuse. By combining microscopic photography with bronze sculpture, I intend to accentuate the visual aesthetic properties of a number of plants containing active ingredients that can affect the brain and/or alter the state of mind of the user.
This ongoing experimental exploration opens with a series of microscopic images of parts of the Cannabis plant that contains the psychoactive substance Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Shot through the lens of an early twentieth century microscope with a medium format film camera, we see mysterious configurations that recreate the mythological “Garden of Eden” in the here and now. The phantasmagorical or psychedelic landscapes that come alive in these pictures provide a deeper look into the nature and culture of plants appreciated and cursed for their specific biochemical properties that have allure.
Retaining the friction between “good” and “evil” has been essential in my attempt to place these plants in a cosmological order of our time. To that end I combined the symbolic figures associated with “the fall of man” with microscopic images of the seed, stem, root, and leaf of this psychoactive plant, and reproduced with artisanal, mechanical, and digital printing technology and techniques to create a lasting ephemeral effect. They comprise 19th century chacoal print, modern chromogenic print, and giclée print. These photographic renderings of “pot”, predictably and expectedly, have come out in a planetary manner. Where the microcosmic and cosmic dimension become one, we catch a glimpse of the manifold ways by which this, and other such plants defy legal and cultural precepts and concepts and escape narrowly defined rules and boundaries that restrict their availability and consumption by encircling them; hence the serpent and the apple.