516 ARTS presented The ‘T’ House, a performative artwork by BioCultura (Andrea Polli & John Donalds) on the grounds of Farm & Table Restaurant in the North Valley of Albuquerque. This event was part of DECADE, the current season of 516 ARTS’ programs celebrating their 10th anniversary. The ‘T’ House provides a physical, virtual and radio ‘platform’ for the performance, discussion and experience of the complex symbiotic relationships of humans and plants in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico and beyond. I and collaborator John Donalds, an architectural designer, imagine a future in which architectural systems are microbial and function in ways similar to mechanisms within a living tea plant. Codifed during the Edo period when Japan closed itself off from the outside world, a traditional Japanese teahouse was an example of extreme sustainability, a system in which all materials were re-used and waste was very limited.
The ‘T’ House hosted 2 events: Artist Talk & ‘T’ Bar
The ‘T’ House welcomed special guests Giko David Rubin and Kathryne Cyman
Giko David Rubin lives, practices, and teaches Zen in Albuquerque New Mexico. He is a co-founder of Mountain Mahogany Community Charter School. He also grows ginger and turmeric and will share a special tea of these local tastes with visitors When creating, studying and teaching within the 400 year-old Arita process, Kathryne Cyman is guided by the nature of the clay and its connection to the past. Yet she is inspired by the shape of land and color of the light in New Mexico to create porcelain that re ects a present aesthetic.
Chado: The Japanese Way of Tea
Special guests Troy Fernandez and Kevin Padilla performed in The ‘T’ House. Chado is the Japanese Way of Tea in the Urasenke Tradition in New Mexico.
Chado is a traditional Japanese art form that celebrates the present moment with sharing a seasonal sweet by Farm & Table’s amazing pastry chef, Tracy Johnson and a bowl of matcha (powdered green tea) prepared by host for guests. This was a special event is made especially for Farm & Table to celebrate the gifts of the autumn harvest here in New Mexico.
During both events, visitors viewed a ‘Tokonomo’ video projection documenting a tea caffeine-extraction at a chemistry lab, tasted a tea at the ‘T’ Bar, and enjoyed tea drinks and local treats.
When events were not taking place, The ‘T’ House was viewable as a static sculpture. Concurrently in the gallery at 516 ARTS, visitors could listen to a sound installation by the artists as part of the DECADE exhibition. The sound piece features interviews about tea, plants and people from New Mexico, as well as other parts of the world, with subjects including architectural historians, Arita pottery masters, solvent chemists, synthetic biologists and herbalists, foragers and Fukukoka inspired farmers.