Garden Bed is a performance and installation created for the group show “Graveyard” at the outdoor Terraformer space on May 6, 2012. Each artists was asked to kill something, bury it, and mark the grave in some way. Terraformer is an abandoned plot of land situated between two apartment buildings in the Chicago neighborhood of Bridgeport, next to the residence of Terraformer curator, Chris Smith. Smith does not have the rights to this land, nor was he given permission to hold an event on it. The land itself has suffered many tragedies over the years, including several deaths, drive-by’s, the apartment that once stood there burning to the ground, and eventually complete abandonment of the property.
On May 2nd I visited the Terraformer at 11:00 PM for the performance. I prepared the land by clearing sticks, rocks, and refuse from what would be the area of my performance, and constructed a 3′ x 6′ frame out of the sticks and stones. After digging a hole in my newly created space, I laid out my sleeping bag and performed an act of love with myself, the earth and the neighborhood, releasing my seed into the ground. Shortly after, I took a male fertility test.
The following Sunday I returned to Terraformer to till the earth where my seed lay and make it proper for growth, removing any weeds, rocks, and sticks in the area and forming the earth into a mound above my seed. At the top of the mound I inserted the fertility test, with the sensor stuck into the dirt, and the results displayed on the test. A metal construction pole was hammered into the corner of my space, with the instructions for how to read the test results attached. The area which began as abandoned, has now served as home, bed, garden, grave, and gallery. The fertility test indicated how many dead sperm lay in the mass grave below, and equally implied the potential ability for the soil itself to give new life. In an unexpected turn of events, the fertility test determined my sperm count to be less than 20 million (far below the average for most men), and was an indication of infertility, for myself and perhaps the land as well.