Title:  A Silkworm of One’s Own

Linden Contemporary Arts, Melbourne, 2007

Materials: unspun silk, mulberry trees, silkworms, hand-written text.

“A Silkworm of One’s Own” is generated by the work of a colony of silkworms (bombyx mori) and the text of emails sent by three philosophers.The title is borrowed from Jacques Derrida’s account of his childhood experience of cultivating silkworms one summer in Algeria.  He writes: “In the four corners of a shoe box, then, I’d been shown how, I kept and fed silkworms…several times a day, the same liturgy, you had to offer them mulberry leaves, these little indifferent idols.”  As the silkworms grew he “could not believe what he was seeing, he could not see what he thought he was seeing, he was already telling himself a story, …like a philosophy of nature for a shoe box.”  This spectre of work, sexuality, death and rebirth is the image the child sets to work as he dreams of becoming a maker of philosophy.  In the last stages the silkworms turn to ink.

This installation is my way of tracing writing and making, philosophy and art, back into a domain from which everything comes – an originary space where imagination, culture and nature intersect.

Geoffrey Bennington, the translator of A Silkworm of One’s Own, and  Alexander Garcia Duttmann send emails each day for the silkworms.  Jean-Luc Nancy also sends emails to the silkworms. All three philosophers were Derrida’s friends.  Each day I write their emails on the wall.


2 Nov JLN --













7 Oct 2







Emails for Silkworms:

10 October  Jean-Luc Nancy wrote:

“for the silk to come”, je tradis littéralement : “pour la soie de venir”,
la soie de venir, une espèce très singulière e soie, une soie filée d’un continuel venir,
non un avenir,
oas même un à venir,
un venir, un simple, lent et continu venir,
un to come un coming soyeux,
venant soyeusement

Download and read the rest of silkworm emails.




video installation (6 minutes), mixed media

“Each one of us must accomplish Noah’s mission afresh.  We must be the pure individual arc of all things, the refuge where they are not content to be what they were or imagined themselves to be, narrow perishable life traps, but where they become transfigured, free from form, and merge completely into the inwardness of their essence where they are somehow preserved from themselves, untouched, intact, at the pure core of indeterminacy.  Yes, each of us is Noah.  But our mission consists less in saving all creation from the flood than, on the contrary, in plunging it into the deepest waters where it vanishes permanently and radically.  Indeed such is man’s vocation.  If everything visible must become invisible, if this metamorphosis is our purpose, then this intervention is apparently quite superfluous – the metamorphosis will occur quite naturally on its own, for everything is transitory and what is transitory always sinks into profound existence.  So what use are we in this lifesaving mission, we, the most transitory of all things, the first to disappear?  What is useful is our readiness to disappear, our ability to perish, our fragility, our weariness, our aptitude for death.”

Maurice Blanchot,    The Siren’s Song.

In the winter of 2005, a pair of black swans came to Hampton beach on Port Phillip Bay, then disappeared.  That year in another winter in Paris I noticed a pair of white swans near where I passed each evening. One evening they were no longer there. Things surface and resurface, become visible then vanish, they make their dwellings, then erase their traces.


video still



Title: Snail Palace

A colony of live garden snails living in a cabinet, that I looked after  for 6 weeks.





snail detail



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