The Cicada Project
a collaboration with Philip Fryer
Every 13-17 years when the soil has reached a temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit, Magicicadas emerge from the earth throughout
North America. In the weeks that follow, these creatures that have been living in a perpetual state of hibernation will wait for their exoskeleton to thicken, they will sing, they will mate, they will lay eggs on tree branches, they will shed their skins, and they will die. They will take over the landscape with their voices and their shells that will stick to trees and screen doors. During the year of the cicada, humans will be reminded that they are not as dominant as they may believe, much like an infestation of mice, or when flocks of geese cross at a busy intersection. The eggs will hatch and plummet back into the ground to begin a new generation. The bodies of the dead will decompose and nourish the soil and the cycle will continue.
The Cicada Project began in November of 2006 when Philip and I took on the responsibility of recycling 10,000 discarded wooden skewers. Mimicking the life cycles of the Magicicada, we allotted ourselves 17 years to successfully give these pieces of wood back to the earth. We carry handfuls of the skewers with them at all times, seeking out public spaces that they want to remember. We outline one another’s bodies with the sticks, then together we hammer the wood into the ground.
This is an exercise in visualizing both human and environmental mortality, memory, and a composition of order that descends into chaos.
The Cicada Project will conclude in November of 2023 when we have buried all of the skewers into underground installations.