For more than a year Jason Gomez has been living in a multispecies companionship. Lucca, aka Addio del Passato (Farewell to the Past), is a Whippet sighthound with whom the artist shares his daily life, creating with him a symbiotic relationship. “When Lucca was placed in my life the desire to delve back into questions of identity came up again.”
Lucca is for Jason Gomez the companion through which he can observe, and call into question, all of those characteristics that allow humans to define themselves as such. The relationship between the two is built upon shared physical spaces and actions, combined in a behavioral pattern that, every day, becomes more unexpectedly intimate. Jason Gomez implements with Lucca what Donna Haraway calls a multispecies companionship, which is to be associated to another fundamental concept of the North American philosopher: that of becoming-with. Becoming-with can be seen as a constant transformative experience that allows the human being to see itself through other creatures, telling their stories, and learning new ways of being in the world; it is a continuous thinking exercise that deconstructs the key concepts of western history, like identity, species, and race.
The greatest challenge for contemporary human beings is to move towards a radical change of perspective, so that they can be seen as part of a great and complex system of relations in which any pre-established and apparent identity is in fact the consequence of continuous symbiotic intra-actions. That of intra-action is here a key concept: it introduces the impossibility of circumscribing individuals into one category, to then highlight the associations that allow each earthling to identify itself as such, and it includes all those human and non-human phenomena that while operating together give a recognizable shape to constantly transforming entities.
Throughout history, however, human beings have generated precise classification methods, based on fixed qualities that only consider change within an evolutionary frame, which have provided a precise taxonomy to both organic and inorganic species. If modern science has introduced this kind of linguistic conventions, in the social field the same attitude can be found in the production of specific ontologies of race, that authors such as Franz Fanon and Sylvia Winter addressed, in the sixties, as some of the most relevant themes of post-colonialism. Essential for these theorists was the pursue of the de- alienation of humans, in order for them to rediscover bodies without race or, using another phrasing, bodies that are emptied of any cultural taxonomy.
One of the starting points of this movement of rediscovery, that goes through the re-evaluation of the significance of hybrids and otherness, lies in the intention of moving the focus from objects to connections, towards temporary or continuous juncture points, concentrating on associations between images and concepts, prior to the ones between living things.
The show by Jason Gomez is dotted with connections, provisional associations between objects, between the written word and built environments. The public enters a space that is sectioned by a number of differently sized tents, originally used to propagate biological material indoors.
The words “Clonal Hut” immediately take us back to the serial reproduction processes that affect vegetal organisms and, just as it happens in the great greenhouses for intensive cultivation, each work is hanged, “connected” to its containing structure, forming a more complex installation. By occupying and taking these environments out of their context, Jason Gomez accompanies the public into a space that is metaphorically cultivated through processes of contamination and hybridization, treating all the works as genetically specific elements, capable, together, of generating new micro-environments.