Theater of Land

Photography/Video Installation, 2020

Photographic installation & 3 channel video.. Jan Van Eyck Academie,Open Studios, 2020. 

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    “Over the centuries, the Qur’anic metaphor of paradise as a garden has been translated into myriad iterations of a Charbagh, a four-fold garden with a fountain at its center. The Charbagh is replicated throughout Islamic gardens, but also in secular and religious gardens all across Europe. The motif was realized in tapestries as well, perhaps the most famous of which was the sixth-century Khosrow Carpet. During the colder months, this 25m x 50m jewel-encrusted tapestry was unfurled indoors as an interior garden. As such, it symbolized the king’s power to command the seasons. When the Arabs captured Ctesiphon in 637, the carpet was cut into fragments and lost forever. Its design, however, continues to be interpreted and reflected across landscapes.

Architect Antonio Bermúdez perceives the Charbagh as a poignant example of oscillating representation and reality. Today man’s dread of feral wilderness is manifested in the ersatz “nature” that is gardening, intensive agriculture, genetically manipulated crops, and managed biodiversity. Endeavors to tame or control our environs have manifested into its wholesale (re)creation.

Bermúdez observes this keenly in Westland, South Holland, called the “city of glass” due to its rows of horticultural houses. To Bermúdez this municipality is yet another Charbagh, comprised of endless hothouses, vivisected by canals and streets. His photographs capture these glass houses, which border the tightly-clipped lawns of suburban homes, themselves captors of tropical vegetation. The Dutch landscape reduced to the king’s Khosrow Carpet. For Bermúdez, Westland, as for Europe write large, is becoming a succession of representations, or mere fictions, of nature. It is his reckoning with a future composed as a series of enclosed gardens.”

Amanda Sarroff, Writer and Curator.

This work analyzes the relation between gardening, territorial planning and intensive agriculture. Groeneweg (Green-way) is a suburban street inhabited by a prosperous middle-class community living on big traditional brick houses;

*In their front-yards: geometric gardens;*

*in their back-yards: enormous industrial greenhouses;*

*inside their bay windows: uncanny colonial dioramas.*