Elena Ailes: Sleeping with Plants


Elena Ailes: Sleeping with Plants


Thursday, November 12, 4:15pm – 5:00pm


Elena Ailes


Sleeping with Plants | Golden Chalice and Bronzed Mirrors: an inquiry into the nature of intimacy, skin and scent

A performance/lecture by Elena Ailes (MAVCS 2016).

Solandra grandiflora, a psychotropic vine in the Solanaceae family, commonly known as Golden Chalice or Cup of Gold, is found throughout Central America, the Caribbean, and, though specific cultivation as an ornamental garden species, in parts of the southern United States. The orange trumpet flowers smell like coconuts while blooming, filling the air with scent meant to summon the autonomous apparatus that is so necessary to the plants ability to reproduce: the pollinator. Honey bee as sex-aid. The massive orange blossoms also happen to release another sort of summons: a chemical identical in structure to human pheromones normally associated with the human reproduction activities of sex and love.

The chemical overlap between flower and person articulates a line of accidental familiarity between two distinct kingdoms, in the biological sense, of being. In a (scent) sense, these biological repetitions of form [identical chemical release, identical receptors] are simultaneous summons, scent-based calls to amorous action

In this lecture Elena Ailes explores the temporal differences between plants and humans, the idealistic and mystical desire for elasticity between human and nonhuman forms, and ultimately focuses on what it means to experience intimacy as a being in and of the world. Parts of this lecture includes: the historical use of the medical term ‘vegetative state’ and the pejorative associations with labeling a human vegetable-like, the complicated set of relations that come with the phrase sleeping with, and ways that humans and non-human alike transgress their supposedly natural rhythmic registers out of desire for a new closeness.






Elena Ailes, “Elena Ailes: Sleeping with Plants,” SAIC Flaxman Library & Special Collection Exhibitions, accessed September 21, 2018, https://flaxman.omeka.net/items/show/117.