"Feast and Famine"
Created for HATAK
By Ashton S. Phillips 
Statement for the work:
"Part living art installation, part posthuman catacomb, part abject tableaux, and part durational interspecies performance, Feast grows out of an ongoing body of work exploring the poetic, healing power of nonhuman agents, like the lowly mealworm, to transform humanity’s toxic waste into nontoxic nourishment for their own lives.  
Feast incorporates mounds of found styrofoam and thousands of living mealworms actively feasting on - and biodegrading - this plastic waste. Fruit, vegetables, and flowers are integrated into the installation, serving both as a source of water and nutrients for the insects and as a kind of offering in gratitude for their transformative work. 

The installation is lit from within and without with mealworm-friendly red, purple, and magenta light - an illumination that makes the intricacy of the insects' consumption patterns more visible to human observers while simultaneously marking the observers’ body as a part of this space of transformation, grief, and repair.   

A series of bound, biomorphic assemblages, built with found plastic objects and unified within bandage-like surfaces of dirt, fiber, and pigment, also inhabit this marked space, bearing a silent, stoic witness to the events, like mummified remains or cocoons for some new composite form of life, yet to emerge.  

Experimental and indeterminate, Feast is an effort to “stay with the trouble” and an invitation to think beyond human-centric norms about what is sacred, what is beautiful, and what is possible."

About the artist: 
Ashton S. Phillips is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles, CA, working directly with the earth, water, pollution, taboo, and repair as primary materials.  He is interested in the wisdom hidden within the material environment, including our physical bodies, and in the promise of queer ecological praxis, including interspecies collaboration, embodied “play,” and speculative (un)making, as pathways for making meaning, building resiliency, and generating new forms of knowing/feeling/being in the late Capitalocene.  
Ashton’s work has been exhibited in museums, galleries, and artist-run spaces around the United States, including the Torrance Art Museum, SoLA Contemporary, Gallery 825, and Shockboxx Gallery in California and Keep Contemporary, form & concept, Ghostwolf Gallery, Santa Maria de Vid Abbey, the Museum of Encaustic Art, and Art123 Gallery in New Mexico.  Ashton's public art commissions and participatory performances include Reflections, a 2020-21 participatory sound art installation in Glendale Central Park; breaking ground, a public performance and temporary land art installation in Sunken City, CA; and Helios Rising, a 170 x 7' mural responding to the path of the sun in Albuquerque, NM.  
Ashton studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, anthropology and queer theory at the University of Maryland, and is a current candidate in the Maryland Institute College of Art’s MFA in Studio Art program.  
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