4. Siobhán McGibbon

Xenophon: Portal to Where? Here, Maybe.

by Siobhán McGibbon and others

19 Apr 2024
1 Aug 2024

Irish artist and researcher Dr. Siobhán McGibbon builds a fictional world to discover an alternative kinship with non-humans. In this fictive world, ‘Xenophon’, the beings (Xenothorpians) have the ability to mutate by merging with other species. In her pieces she becomes Xenothorpian by merging with Japanese Knotweed and other beings that are put into conflict with each other by humans.


Portal to where? Here, maybe. - Photographs by Tom Flanagan, Courtesy of Galway arts Centre

The flea Aphalara Itadoria is a natural 'enemy' of Japanese Knotweed, deployed by humans as a way to control the invasive plant. In this exhibition you enter Xenophon's world through the eyes of the Aphalara itadoria, which has a higher sensitivity to UV to recognise the plant. This forest of knotweed has become intermingled with cells of plants, animals and fungi. In several workshops, Siobhán worked with participants to make this fusion visible.

About the artist

Siobhán McGibbon is a Visual Artist, Researcher and World-builder with a transdisciplinary, art, science and narrative practice. Her expression merges sculpture, animation, drawing, text, permaculture and participatory installations. Siobhán uses world-building as a framework to conduct multispecies research through a speculative and scientific fictitious lens. This alter-imaginary is populated by Xenothorpians, a fluid species that commune, mutate and merge with living and non-living entities to adapt to the Anthropocene. Their hybridisations provide a backdrop from which new stories emerge- a satirical approach to the problem of humans and a lens to query the possibilities of multi-species futures. 

Critical to this world-building practice is the question of what happens when one decentres the human? How does this shift in focus bring other perspectives into view? What other worlds can we world?


Sofiana Kretsi Bakola, Mila Benjamins, Fiachra Corr, Naomi van Dijck, Desiree Foester, Lottie Frei, Hannah Geurkink, Maria Hadjicosti, Emma Lau, Jada Maij, Laura Sanz Rosal, Simon & Yuri, Robin Tan, Ekim Tan, Fara Verhoeven, Kylie Verkaart, Marvis Verkaart, Fynn Verkaart

Japanese Knotweed Festival

This exhibition is part of the Japanese Knotweed Festival. A recurring festival in which we explore our cultural relationship with plants.

Mediamatic organizes a festival every spring around Japanese knotweed, a fast-growing plant known in Europe for its intrusive properties. What many do not know, however, is that this plant species has a host of positive properties. During this festival, we explore how to live in harmony with this controversial plant.

Find the whole program here!