In Transit: Botany Of A Journey

Jan 23,2020

Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai’s contemporary art institution, opens its new Artist's Garden commission – In Transit: Botany of a Journey by artist Asunción Molinos Gordo – on February 1, 2020. Exploring ideas of interconnectivity, mobility and cohabitation, the live, site-specific installation is a global garden grown from seeds that have travelled in the intestines of Dubai’s diverse population.

Asunción Molinos Gordo traces remnants of the city’s diverse international culinary habits making their way from the plate to the city’s central sanitation plant. Most of the seeds we eat daily can survive the process of human digestion, leaving our bodies almost undamaged and remaining germinable. The work challenges romantic concepts of nature, while embodying the interconnected reality of the human condition.

Dubai, as a global city and the business hub of the Middle East, receives an average of 90 million passengers a year to the city and through its airport, coming from 270 destinations, across six continents. Additionally, the resident population is extraordinarily diverse. The culinary habits of such a heterogeneous population are incomparable; all of the seeds ingested by Dubai’s fluid and transient population make their way to the same location — the city’s main sewage treatment plant in Al-Aweer. Given the appropriate conditions, the seeds that survived the digestion process and are contained in the sewage plant’s final, clean ‘sludge’ have germinated and grown into adult plants.

Working with UAE engineers and horticulturalists, and the Art Jameel team, Spanish artist Asunción Molinos Gordo has grown a garden at Jameel Arts Centre from these digested, cleaned and germinated seedlings. As the seedlings emerged from the ‘sludge’ and grew into plants, they were separated, classified and transplanted; a variety of plants are growing at the Jameel, including tomatoes, watermelon, chilies, eggplant, muskmelon, zucchini, amaranth, mustard, citrus, sunflowers, pomegranate and pumpkin.

Once the plants produce crops and are ready for collection, they will be harvested for seed saving and research by the artist’s fellow scientists and researchers.

Asunción Molinos Gordo’s Artist’s Garden responds to Art Jameel’s curatorial brief – to realise a work that riffs on our relationship with the natural world. The project challenges the nature-culture divide that places human activity as a separate category from other natural phenomena, and aims to redraw our way back into interconnectedness, inspired by what British philosopher Timothy Morton called the 'mesh'. The project is thought of as a 'poetic enactment' to reconfigure our understanding of a world without an 'inside' and an 'outside'.

IN TRANSIT: Botany of a Journey is commissioned and produced by Art Jameel and has been developed with support and advice from Dubai Municipality, American University of Sharjah, Sia Landscaping, Al Zahra Farm, horticulturist Kumar Palanisamy and Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) (through the programme for the Internationalisation of Spanish Culture (PICE), in the framework of the mobility grants).

A further iteration of the project will be presented at Art Dubai in March 2020 as part of a collaboration with the fair’s Commissions programme, curated by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez.


Opening Event

February 1, 2020 from 4-5.30pm at Jameel Arts Centre for the opening, tour and special talk by the artist and guest speakers. This event is free and open to all.


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