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1982-1999

All things of value are truly defenceless - Lucebert

Garden of Words II

  • GARDEN OF WORDS II is born out of a romantic fascination with the use of language in various creation myths. It tracks down the enchantment Adam had with the names of living things in Genesis, and it supports Hermes Trismegistus and his classified texts of creation spells in Egyptian cosmogony.

     

    Both these myths follow a perversely Platonic order of events. They begin with an archetype, that is an apperceptive mental image of things intended for creation, - not unlike Kant's noumenon. In the Genesis myth this is a pre-ordination. In both myths this idée mère - the 'mother idea' - is followed by an ectype, an externalising of the mental image. The ectype is exercised as a spoken 'language': "Let there be light." In Genesis Adam is asked to retrieve this 'language', but in the Egyptian myth Hermes locks it away, hermetically sealed as a covert script in his library of secret books. Concrete features such as the light, animals and plants created by the ectypal language are called prototypes, and, as the world begins to procreate and duplicate itself, the subsequent features become known as stereotypes.

     

    The installation GARDEN OF WORDS II follows Adam in his impossible infralapsarian task of reviewing the prototypal world by identifying living things. Adam's fascinating and apparently foredoomed attempt at shaping language was made when he was alone, with no-one to talk to, - Eve had not yet been fabricated, and Lilith had absconded. The installation also plagiarises the bold attempt of Carl Linnæus and a long line of scholars who walk in his shoes in their quest to find the key that will unlock the impenetrable vaults of Hermes Trismegistus, an attempt both daunted and enriched by the new revised systems of DNA identification.

    GARDEN OF WORDS II, in typical Adamic fashion, has distinguished more than ten thousand plant species over a period of seventeen years in actual locations all over the world. As was the case with Adam, the venture has no apparent scientific value. It is an infinitely laborious effort, apparently wasted on so many confident assertions already put in place by the world's famed taxonomists.

     

    "The grass withereth and its flower fadeth." GARDEN OF WORDS II seeds its own sterile ectypal 'language' in hopeless desperation. It presents a view of austere 'flower-beds', like rows of silent graves. These are planted with fields of translucent blades of grass invoking the memory of the defenceless plants that did not survive that dreaded cataclysmic siege that inexorably comes when our proud modern world tenders the collapse of natural life. The work is a garden of remembrance that prematurely recognises the shades of expired life - a futile hot-house at the end of time.

     

    Text supplied at second installation,
    Floralies Horticultural Show, held in Nantes, France
    May 1999