One of the pre-filtering systems used in the exhibition consists of a few living plants. Grown specifically to be used in this context, these common weeds are well suited to thrive on the contaminated water discharged by the fountain and other devices in the gallery. The Sumac tree, nurtured from a sapling uprooted by a city clean up crew and abandoned on a Brooklyn sidewalk, is a living symbol of the Protestant work ethic. Its fragile body is easily broken, sacrificed to preserve its roots which tenaciously hold their ground despite repeated cuttings. Once these plants take hold, they are nearly impossible to remove. They can be seen flourishing on top of buildings, growing from spaces between bricks, sprouting from abandoned cars. They don't seem to care one iota for their environment, their context, and are committed only to productivity. The sumac can be seen thriving even in the winter months, thumbing its deciduous nose at the sickly urban pines planted as pathetic decoration here and there. The most attractive feature of the Sumac of course is its smell. Sometimes referred to as "stink plants," it is remarkable how much their fetid sap resembles the odor of human sweat. In an urban environment, these plants seem the most natural because of their ubiquity, and their lack of consideration for others.
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