2021 – ongoing
Chapter 1, single-channel-video, 4’37’’
Ginkgo biloba is the only living species remaining in the order Ginkgoales, and is also a living fossil. Because of its status in Buddhism and Confucianism, the ginkgo is also widely planted in temples in Asia. Ginkgo biloba is dioecious, with separate sexes, some trees being female and others being male. Only female trees can produce fruit. Males and females are virtually indistinguishable from each other until they reach sexual maturity. In the 1990s in China, ginkgo nuts were once popular and used as a health supplement. At that time, the price for acquiring nuts was so high that only female trees were economically valuable, so female ginkgo trees were often bought and sold. But later, the price of ginkgo nuts fell in the market. Now ginkgo trees are often used worldwide for urban settings because of their resistance to pollution, pests, or disease. However, because ginkgo fruit contains a lot of butyric acid, people complain about the unpleasant vomit-like smell when it is used as a street tree, so they only want to plant male trees. Sometimes the male tree is even grafted into a female tree to prevent it from bearing fruit.
Through such stories we can see how human needs and desires change from time to time. This project will explore the relationship between ginkgo and humans in cultural history through a feminist lens.