HOX ZODIAC project (www.hoxzodiac.com ) is a 12 year collaboration between artist Victoria Vesna and scientist Siddharth Ramakrishnan. This year marks a full circle with the year of the RAT, the first sign in the Chinese zodiac and the beginning of a new cycle. Inspired by the meaning of the HOX gene (that control body plans in all animals - be it a snake with a long body, an elephant with a trunk or humans with legs and feet)-- the art/sci collaborators address questions about our treatment of animals and remind us that we are part of this kingdom. After many iterations, it developed into a dinner that was staged in many cities around the planet, asking guests to come to the table as the animal they are in the zodiac, offer food recommended by Ayurveda and Chinese medicine and share stories, music and performances.
Now that we are all now in quarantine because of the COVID-19 virus that is exposing a lot of inequity and creating a lot of dis-ease and suffering, we come together virtually -- in solidarity - celebrating 50 years of Earth day and reminding all that we are out of balance and that it is not an accident that the source of this pandemic was in the wild animal market. The zodiac is used as a framework and is also meant to introduce the public to Chinese culture now that some xenophobia is also rearing its ugly head. Through this shared experience, we wish to express gratitude to us as animals, the animals who serve us as food, in science and as companions, and remind us of our place on earth.