Study for a Monument
‘Study for a Monument’ (2013-) Installation view at Villa Stuck. Cast bronze on cotton fabric
‘Study for a Monument’ (2013 – ongoing) is an act of commemoration, and also an attempt to archive plants belonging to regions around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the title hinting at the legendary gardens of Babylon. Plant taxonomy thrived as a scientific discipline in the colonial period, when 19th-century researchers gained access to new areas and organised expeditions around the world gathering species, thereby becoming the gatekeepers of scientific knowledge. Akhavan has traced botanical species such as those held at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, in particular endemic species that grow in present-day Iraq, such as Iris barnumae, Astragalus lobophorus and Campanula acutiloba. Damage to their habitat, firstly by the destruction of salt marshes by Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist government to quell the marsh Arabs’ resistance and then by the effects of the Iraq war, has made tracing them a difficult task. Rooted in the funerary tradition of commemorating the dead, monuments often record public figures or landmark historical events. They demonstrate strength and attempt to stimulate forms of nationalist or collective memory despite the inevitability of shifts in power. Sculpted from photographic documentation and cast in bronze, these flowers, stems, leaves and roots are displayed in groupings which rest on the ground, resisting the verticality and singularity of traditional monuments. Enlarged to a human scale, they are displayed on simple white sheets, as if captured while being transported.
for more information visit: http://gardenandspring.com
Courtesy of Abraaj Group Art Prize 2014