Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present
February 7 - June 11, 2023
Conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and curated by Hoor Al Qasimi

Garden of Desire

Galvanized steel, various plants, knotted yarn, soil, water, wick, handmade cotton paper embedded with seeds, archival documents on Xerox, vellum, cotton paper and etchings on paper. Dimensions variable.
Credits: Dieu Donné, New York (handmade paper); Maryam Farzenaeh and Sharjah Agriculture and Parks Department (Landscape Consultants)
Produced by Sharjah Art Foundation

Garden Of Desire is a sculptural installation inspired by the design of the royal Fin Garden, one of the oldest extant gardens in Iran, a site renowned for its paths, water courses and a central pavilion. Reflecting on the Persian garden as a paradoxical site of beauty and hospitality on the one hand and an auxiliary purpose for diplomatic and imperialistic negotiations on the other, the artist produced a miniature garden composed of handmade seed paper, soil, local flora and a self-watering system.

The project draws upon nearly a decade of archival research into Persian garden design, botany and geopolitics as well as the writings of Donald Wilber, a scholar of Persian architecture later revealed to be the CIA operative behind the 1953 coup to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, who sought to nationalise the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The work mediates the artist’s archival research and parallel narratives in the historical construction of the Iranian landscape through a set of six etchings that rhythmically wipe, erase and rebuild layers of data. Garden of Desire seeks to reclaim these documents which were heavily redacted, partially declassified, and now reclaimed by the force of decay and growth.

View the etchings → HERE

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