Visual artist, documentary filmmaker and writer Saddie Choua talks in ‘Lamb Chops Should Not Be Overcooked’ about the psychophysical trauma caused by racism. The installation’s starting point is the herbal book by the Mechelen-born botanist and doctor Rembert Dodoens. Choua develops a new herbal for Contour with special attention to the trauma caused by racism and right-wing politics.
The doctor and botanist Dodoens wrote an important and innovative herbal in 1554, called the ‘Cruydeboek’. In the book, he classified plants and flowers by their external characteristics. That was new at the time but is now quite an antiquated approach. Classification is generally intended to gain knowledge, in order to gain control of nature and ultimately subject and use it for self-interest. As soon as our fauna and flora were domesticated and placed under human control, a number of problems materialised. Did we not care too much about our plants and animals? Distance was required in order to continue exploiting nature without guilt. Not only was this objectification process a useful tool for dominating nature: the colonizer could also make good use of it. In today's society, racism is an instrument to divide, dehumanize and hurt people. Are economic exploitation and the pursuit of profit the ultimate underlying reasons?
In ‘Lamb Chops Should Not Be Overcooked’, Saddie Choua turns those roles around and uses nature to ease pain, heal and strengthen. She has reworked Dodoens’ herb book by making an edition with plants, recipes and all kinds of tips for health and trauma processing. Choua's book and installation is the result of the research that she conducted in the context of the Contour Biennale 9 in Mechelen. In January she started a local reading group to read "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison. The artist then went in search of Mechelen's wounded places of pain and organised a walk in May to overcome these wounds. These experiences are intertwined in her final work ‘Lamb Chops Should Not Be Overcooked’.