Brooklyn-based poet, artist, and chef Precious Okoyomon explores the poetics of everyday materials ranging from plants, flowers, soil, food, and found objects, and their practice encompasses text, performance, sound, sculpture, and film. Death, decay, and rebirth are recurring themes in their work rooted in an ongoing investigation of transitional stages of objects, bodies, and existing in a world in a state of impending collapse. In their 2020 exhibition Earthseed at the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, which was shuttered for several months due to the global pandemic, Okoyomon’s six sculptural figures inhabited a room filled with the Japanese vine kudzu as part of a living installation that addressed creative digestion, death, and decay.
Okoyomon’s current solo show at Performance Space New York transforms the Keith Haring Theatre into a site for grief and mourning with an installation featuring kudzu ash, water, algae, moss, and stone. In our interview, Okoyomon and I discuss the coexistence of human and nonhuman life, world-ending and world-making, the many myths surrounding kudzu, and turning an ecosystem into a wake for the ongoing pandemic and the repeating horrors of Black death in 2020.