FESTOONING THE INFLATABLE BEEHIVE // MARIA MOLTENI + COLETTE ALIMAN
Since attending bee school in 2009 I have studied with progressive beekeepers across the country. Festooning the Inflatable Beehive is a collaborative project under my creative direction that consists of a traveling installation anchored by a giant inflatable Skep beehive (designed and built by hand without the aid of computer programs or fabricators) + playful, progressive models of education and engagement that I call Festooning.
In a beehive, honeycomb segments hang like rounded curtains from either beehive top-bars/frames placed by a beekeeper or simply limbs of a tree. Before the modern day filing cabinet-style beehive was invented (by Reverend Langstroth, in a Deerfield, MA), the traditional woven Skep was used. The way that these scalloped chunks of comb would drape inside it also mirrors the ways bees string their bodies together between the frames of comb to build cells. This behavior is called Festooning in the beekeeping world. The root of the word FESToon comes from *Feast or *Festival and refers to an abundance of material that is so plenty it falls off the table, drips and drapes indulgently. Such excess is managed by pinching it into segments. The Festoon was used in many historic art and architectural designs but has come to be an interdisciplinary term to describe this scalloped form. In addition to beekeepers it’s used by dentists, electricians, party supply stores, etc. For our Festooning projects, my collaborator Colette Aliman and I use this playful, abstract form to talk about community- when individual parts link to form an energized system.