Urtica Dioica: Stinging Nettle Powder from the Sandhills Institute

Jorge Menna Barreto, June 2017.

In 1970, land artist Robert Smithson wrote, referring to how he went about the piece Spiral Jetty: "I would let the site determine what I would build". Inspired by his words and understanding them as a sign of a collaboration between site, art and artist, my project brings a special twist to the quote to "let the site determine what I would eat". By focusing on the Stinging Nettles that grow spontaneously at the ranch of the Sandhills Institute, the project Urtica Dioica imagines wild edibles as site-specific food that speaks to and teaches our bodies and cells how to reconnect to wilderness and the landscape through our digestive systems. With the help of the interns and the Ziegler family, the plants were dried, blended and powdered in order improve palatability. They were then bottled and labeled so as to become durable, portable and make up for an ingestible non-site of the Sandhills Institute.