In the introduction of The Book of Tea, Okakura Kakuzo speaks of “moral geometry” to explain how ‘The Philosophy of Tea,” or “Teaism,” embodies Eastern ideals related to purity, simplicity, and a sense of proportion to nature and the cosmos. “Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence,” says Kakuzo. Inspired by Kakuzo's idea of "moral geometry," I used the components of over 1,600 teabags donated by friends and acquaintances to create a body of work that invites viewers to consider everyday waste and consumption and creates a space for reflection and contemplation.
The centerpiece of Moral Geometry is a small building titled Tea Cage made with the remnant tissue of over 1,600 used teabags and based on the Wardian case, a precursor of the modern terrarium. Working for the British East India Company in 1848, Robert Fortune used Wardian cases to smuggle 20,000 tea plants from Shanghai to start the first plantations in Assam, India. Designed in collaboration with artist Tim Burke, Tea Cage is a flexible structure that can be broken down into a series of screens or space dividers.
Moral Geometry Events
Tea Cage was presented at Antena in 2010. Tea Cage functioned as a forum for performance, talks, and social encounters. Events included a performance by musician Fred Lonberg-Holm and dancer Asimina Chremos and a talk with Resource Center founder, Ken Dunn. Organic tea was donated by Ineeka Tea Chicago, a family operated, vertically integrated company with farms in the Himalayas.
Ken Dunn in conversation with Georgina Valverde
Ken Dunn is the founder of the Chicago Resource Center. Ken is a pioneer in developing innovative recycling models that not only tap into the waste stream but also bring together diverse socioeconomic sectors. The Resource Center operates four drop-off recycling stations, a commercial and residential collection program, a sustainable organic farm, a composting facility and the Perishable Food Recovery Program.