Caitlin Rose Sweet
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“My heart, my trust, my life, my vision were shattered. I grieved. I turned to the earth for comfort. I lay on my belly in the garden, crying, and saw the earth transform my sadness into food and medicine. “It is only anger and resistance which make you miserable and powerless,” she told me, “ be open to change. Forgive. And ask for forgiveness.” Slowly I let go of my sense of loss and opened to the beauty and abundance of life. I forgave and asked for forgiveness. I experienced grace and renewal.”
~Susan Weed writing about Laughing Rock Land published in Lesbian Land edited by Joyce Cheney and published by Word Weavers in 1985
“Like many demanding lovers, queer critics promise to rescue the past when in fact they dream of being rescued themselves.”
~ Heather Love Feeling Backward Loss and the Politics of Queer History
“I am bored of reductionist cisgenitalia driven art”
~Larissa Pham (via Twitter)
“Cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty…”
~Kevin Aviance Cunty
When my hands parted the pages of the Lesbian Land book, the sienna pages and old photographs of lesbians laboring together to build brave new worlds outside of the sharp eye of patriarchy instantly soothed me. But nostalgia for something that no longer exists and was never yours creates a tricky space for projecting your own desires and needs on unresponsive past. Planting the Cunt Garden is the capturing of my wishes for a woman’s community with blurring edges and undefined spaces. My original intent with Planting the Cunt Garden was to create an interactive installation that opened up the healing energy of Susan Weed’s relationship to the earth and her garden to a larger and more diverse audience. In particular I wanted to address the cisgenderist and transphobic reality of women’s land. I desired to create a space of forgiveness, asking for forgiveness, and renewal to heal the painful parts of my lesbian ancestry that pushed out my trans sisters. As I conceptually dug into this piece, I was struck with the reality that when we (feminist queers) look towards the past to revisit the aesthetics of Lesbian communities and land projects, we need to address the inevitable encounter with its separatism and the harm it poses and continues to pose to trans women and transfeminism and who am I to invite people to the Cunt Garden. Who am I to open the doors when those guarding them don’t want them open.
This piece grew from a representation of the past into an expression of my determination to simultaneously hold my lesbian fore mothers in the highest regard while I unflinchingly look into their unresolved misogyny and trans misogyny. I don’t wish to repeat the past that cannot unwind the hurtful attachment to binary sex and that will not honor all of our sisters. I want to plant a cunt garden to heal all of us. So what I offer to the Gay Wax Museum is a different kind of seed for us to plant, a beginning not based in cisgender women’s bodies but an abstraction of queer femininity that refuses to grow in patriarchal soil of binary sex and gender.
Susan Weed is an herbalist that has shaped our understanding of herbal medicine for cisgender women and directs the Wise Women Center in upstate New York. An illustration of her Cunt Garden, a key-hole garden with a compost center, was printed in the Lesbian Book.
Caitlin Rose Sweet explores the intersections between craft, queerness, and pop culture to position queerness as a site for incessant transformation and possibilities. Her playful work resists assimilation and mastery through an intentional disinvestment in finished work and proper use of materials. caitlinrosesweet.com