Becks Butler’s Taxonomy contemplates the connections between people. In the most fundamental way, it thinks about what makes us who we are. At the nexus of a nurture v nature debate we are faced with two types of determinism – one tells us that we are what we are because we copy and we get taught; the other tells us that our bodies are coded, via genetics, and that our assumptions, our gestures, perhaps even the tempo of our lives, are foretold via corporeal inheritance.
To be adopted is to enter uncertainty into this ancient debate. It is to not know; to not know how the places in which you have lived have shaped you; to not know for sure how the nurture you have received has nurtured you; to not know for sure what, inside your own body, is directing your sense of sense; to not know if a stranger who passes you is part of you.
Becks Butler’s Taxonomy creates a fragile matrix out of these uncertainties around a central physical structure which mimics diagrammatic representations of the interplay between genotype (determining characteristics which are genetic) and phenotype (a set of observable characteristics and behaviours which are, partially, determined by environment and adaptation). In using this structure Taxonomy accepts the interplay of the nature/nurture, genotype/phenotype, but interpolates into and onto its structure all the human elements which that taxonomy draws into itself, all the fragility and livedness which the taxonomy seeks to codify.
Because in the midst of the science of genetics and behaviour is the messy experience of warmth and dissociation, care and insecurity. Taxonomy is the overlayering of cherished ordinariness onto the framework of inheritance, it is a questioning and felt attempt to hold in architectural tension quotidian experience and objective knowledge. Central to its imagery is a messy bed – a site of rest and dreams, contemplation and desire, love and sex. And around this, Taxonomy immerses itself in people, their quiet gestures and their bodies, as if trying to discern the clues to the mystery of who they are and, in that, to understand how they come to be who they are. In parallel to these people,places are dreamscapes charged with potential meaning; places are their own questions about where they fit in a shaping narrative of inheritance, moments in time and space replete with possible significance.
Taxonomy is an investigation into the uncertain identity of adoption, of the structure of human beings via genotype and phenotype, but more than that is it a tender consideration of how love and self, of who we are and what we can be.