I saw this pollen field at the MOMA this winter.
It was a shocking, concentrated radiance, both natural and supernatural, on a gloomy grey day.
Bees gather pollen to feed to their eggs and larvae in a formula called “brood food.” Pollen is the essential protein of this formula, and bees are dependent on it for their survival. The more pollen, the healthier the hive. Much like a worker bee, the artist Wolfgang Laib spends the spring and summer collecting pollen. Laib describes pollen as the beginning of life, the future of the flower. Gathering the pollen, year after year, is “the essence of all your experience,” he says. There’s a beautiful video about Laib’s process on the MOMA website.
I like to imagine the museum’s description of Laib as the description of a honeybee:
“In a solitary, ceremonial endeavor, Laib manually harvests pollen from one plant at a time. This physically demanding activity involves devotion and discipline, and notions of time, labor, ritual, and the process of art making are rethought.”