Kapwani Kiwanga
Semence, 2020
15000 ceramic replicas of rice grains of variety Oryza glaberrima 
Variable Dimensions

Semence is a monumental installation that brings to the fore ideas of fecundity in plant life through rice grains. The work takes as its reference, the history of the movement of grains of rice through the slave trade —particularly the introduction of red rice to the United States from West Africa. Rice grains are believed to have been hidden by enslaved people in clothing or braided into hair as a means of providing food security and self-sufficiency in the event of an escape from slavery upon reaching the Americas. By referencing this history, Kiwanga replicates rice grains in the form of fifteen thousand individual life-sized ceramic sculptures. The grains are arranged in smaller batches which are sowed into a plot made of wood, metal and plastic.