Coinciding with this year’s Chelsea Flower Show and London Festival of Architecture, we are pleased to present a free photography exhibition Garden State by Corinne Silva. Offering an unexpected view on gardening, the show comprises photographic and sound installations exploring Israel’s suburban gardens, parks and public places. Silva encourages visitors to view gardening not simply as the act of nurturing a plot of land, but as something potentially far more sinister: a tool used in aggressive state expansion, territory marking and occupation.
Throughout history, occupying forces have sought to exert control over their territories through re-shaping and re-naming landscapes, landmarks, cities and even countries. New governments have embarked on large-scale landscaping projects and public park building, creating sites of national pride. Settlers have introduced the native plants of their homelands, re-creating the familiar, displacing the indigenous, and stamping their own identities on the land. In this exhibition, Silva explores what gardening might represent in the context of Israel’s contemporary colonisation of Palestinian territories.
Garden State comprises two ambitious installations, created during a series of trips to sites between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River from 2010 and 2013. Wounded (2013) is a series of nine photographs, taken shortly after a devastating fire in the Carmel Forest in Northern Israel, accompanied by sound recordings made by the artist as she pushed her way through the waist-high foliage that had grown in its place three years later. Only a small percentage of Israel’s forests are natural, when the Aleppo pine forest was first planted, other indigenous flora was pushed out. This immersive audio-visual installation presents the destruction of this national park as a reversal of the Israeli state’s re-creation and occupation of this landscape.
Gardening the Suburbs (2014), is a large-scale undulating wall installation made up of clusters of photographs of Israeli suburban gardens. It loosely maps the way these settlements have wound their way across the Occupied Territories, cutting off Palestinian villages from one another and hugging the major roads and freeways. In this work Silva sculpts her own landscapes to show how the Israeli state progressively expands and marks out its land, encouraging people to settle, to make roots and grass over particular historical narratives.
Silva is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Photography and the Archive Research Centre, University of the Arts London. She received an Arts and Humanities Research Council PhD Scholarship (2010 to 2013) and gained her PhD in 2014. In 2013 and 2014 she was artist in residence at A.M. Qattan Foundation Ramallah, and in 2014 received a Triangle International Fellowship. Recent group and solo exhibitions include My Sister Who Travels, The Mosaic Rooms, London (2014); Gardening the Suburbs, Makan Art Space, Amman; I See Europe! Kunstbezirk, Stuttgart (2013); Brighton Photo Biennial (2012); The Photographer’s Gallery, (2012); Flash Forward festival, Toronto and Boston (2011/2012); Wandering Abroad, National Media Museum/Ways of Looking Festival, Bradford, UK (2011); Imported Landscapes, Manifesta 8, (2010); Badlands, Noorderlicht Photofestival (2010); Wandering Abroad, Leeds Art Gallery, UK (2009).
Private View: Wednesday 13 May 2015: 6.30-8.30pm: Join us and artist Corinne Silva to celebrate the opening of her solo show with drinks and nibbles. Places limited, RSVP essential. Rsvp@mosaicrooms.org
Pop-Up ‘Guerrilla’ Garden: Smallworld Urbanism has also been commissioned by The Mosaic Rooms to create a sustainable pop-up permaculture garden highlighting the power of gardening as a positive force for social activism. In an age when cities are seemingly lost to an endless swathe of development, citizens have used a variety of means of gardening to reclaim urban space in the interests of people and community. Smallworld Urbanism’s pop-up ‘guerrilla’ garden at The Mosaic Rooms employs permaculture principles and aims to engage the local community throughout its development. It includes a layered modular garden, featuring vegetables and fruits, and integrated upcycled seating arrangements made using materials commonly discarded. A series of workshops on the principles of sustainable gardening will also be held at The Mosaic Rooms to highlight the change that can be brought about by a proactive community. Find out more here.
Part of Open Garden Squares Weekend 2015.
Open Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm, Entrance Free
Garden State is co-produced by Ffotogallery, Cardiff, The Mosaic Rooms, London, and UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC), London College of Communication, and supported by the Arts Council of Wales,A.M. Qattan Foundation and University of the Arts London.
Part of London Festival of Architecture, Open Garden Squares Weekend and Chelsea Fringe.