built as a multipart project and a MA thesis at MIT, Caitlin Berrigam’s “Life Cycle of a common weed” explores the encounters between plants and humans through the interface of blood. In this case, blood, we soon realize, carries the hepatitis C virus, an element that immediately becomes an inadvertent protagonist in this project.
The presence of the virus is felt throughout the project through its appearance as a chocolate truffle faithfully reproduced “from a magnified 3D cryoelectron micrograph” found in the Protein Data Bank, to test the spectator’s “desire to eat the enticing chocolates mixed with a repulsion for the infectious virus”; it is found printed on “letters to a virus”; it’s molecular shape is used to build domes wherein to engage in constructive conversations etc… there is enough material to challenge popular assumptions of contagion and virus-human coexistence .
The accuracy of the appearances and the material used, chocolate, unavoidably triggers anxiety regarding Hepatitis C and its means of transmission. The edible form of this particular representation exposes the uncanny familiarity and ubiquity of this virus, with which many people often silently and secretly, sometimes unknowingly, coexist.