Taey Iohe

Seeds in the gut 

Still images from Seeds in the gut, film, 2 min 24 sec, 2021

This short moving images of poetry, Seeds in the gut explores the moment of cultural and political struggles in the world of the garden; how plants and their knowledge are passing through a violent age and surviving through variegated migration and other temporalities.

The peacock flower, first grown in Madagascar in East Africa, and travelled to the Caribbean islands. During the horrific colonial period, women slaves used the flower and its roots as an abortion facilitator to retake control their bodies, rejecting having to give birth to future slaves for relentless labour. 

Even though colonial botanists brought this flower to Europe in the 18th Century, the knowledge of its use as an abortifacient did not transfer over, as it did not fit with their motivation for profit through the collection of food, medicine or agricultural economies. Abortifacient medicine as a protective for womens’ health was not in scientists’ interest, and abortion became criminalised in the 1800s.

Taey opened a potential poetic space for the words of the protagonist to resonate; she dreams of the passing on of solidarity and intimate knowledge to peer women; Taey aims to re-envision how non-fetishised botanical drawings could carry the story of violence behind botanic science.  

Seeds in the gut’ was commissioned and screened as part of a performance, Bingen TV produced by The Hildergard von Bingen Society for Gardening Companions, the show at the Cockpit in London 2021.