Promiscuous Production: Breeding is Bittersweet

A National Bitter Melon Council Public Sculpture and Interactive Outdoor Installation, June – November 2010

Group Exhibition: EAT LACMA

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) 

Promiscuous Production: Breeding is Bittersweet was a large-scale, public installation in the form of an organic “farmden”(farm + garden) that housed an experimental effort to breed a hybrid variety of melon, a Bittersweet melon. It was installed as part of the group show, EAT LACMA, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). From June to November 2010, Bitter Melon grew alongside heirloom varieties of sweet melon and vined around a hand-built trellis made of interlockingbamboo stakes harvested from the LACMA campus. The trellis, designed by National Bitter Melon Council and collaboratively built with the Los Angeles creative team, Materials and Applications (M&A), evolved into a veritable tunnel of love where bees, butterflies, and humans brushed against the melon flowers and promoted their bitter and sweet pollination.

The piece closed with a seed-saving performance event during the day-long, group performance festival, Let Them EAT LACMA, where the NBMC and members of the public harvested Bitter Melons and sweet melons from the trellis, removed the seeds, and dried them for further cultivation. Due to the promiscuous pollen-sharing throughout the season, each seed bears the genetic strain of the other. These seeds will be cultivated in future bittersweet melon gardens where the cycle of breeding will continue until a single, true, NBMC Bittersweet Melon seed strain exists.

Through this breeding experiment, the project utilized the Fluxus performance principle of chance production through the practice of cross-pollination. Breeding two “opposing” melons together enabled the exploration of the flexibility and future of bitterness.

2 Trellises

To read about the corresponding Promiscuous Production event and performance project called Meeting is Bittersweet at the closing event for the EAT LACMA exhibition, click here.