Medieval Plants in Gardens, Silhouette Installations with Video Projection

Medieval Plants in Gardens, Silhouette Installations with Video Projection

Buttercup plant, detail

Medieval Plants in Gardens, Silhouette Installations with Video Projection, 2017

De Materia Medica by Dioscorides was composed by the 1 st century Greek botanist.  De Materia Medica was one of the earliest scientific botanical manuscripts to be translated from Greek to Arabic and therefore it was preserved. The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi manuscript was composed by the 12th century Andalusian physician and scholar Abu Ja`far al-Ghafiqi. These are the most remarkable medieval botanical manuscripts on medicinal plants, their names, their visuals and their healing properties.

Medieval societies and medical practitioners had great appreciation for benefits of nature, specifically those plants that prevented or treated ailments. In medieval palaces such as Alhambra in Andalusia, gardens of medicinal plants were created and benefits of plants were carefully recorded in manuscripts.  In my silhouette installations, I imagine these plants in a garden, released from the pages of the De Materia Medica and The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi manuscripts. I extract the plants’ images and convert them into silhouettes and print the original manuscripts’ description texts on some of the shapes. I use paint, parchments, wood, threads, pins, cut-papers and Mylar. The lighter materials such as paper, parchment, Mylar and threads, create movements when a viewer passes by the installations similar to plants moving in the breeze. I project my digitally rendered garden images on these installations to create an illusion of depth and shadows.

The Healing Garden of Ghafiqi and Dioscorides, 2017, cut-paper and pins in a shadow box, 15 x 40 x 5.5 inches
After The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi, Botanical Medicinal Manuscript, 12th c., Andalusia (Spain)
And De Materia Medica by Dioscorides, Botanical Medicinal Manuscript, 1st c., Greece

Installation View at Chandra Ceritto Contemporary, Oakland, CA

The plants in the shadowbox: spelt, chamomile, buttercup, black henna, sprung-olive, thymelaea, and cinquefoil

The Garden of Ghafiqi and Dioscorides, 2017, cutout-paper and Mylar, wood, text, paint, pins and threads, 7 x 12 feet
In this installation I composed the garden using plants from both scientists’ botanical manuscripts

The Garden of Ghafiqi and Dioscorides; detail

The Garden of Ghafiqi and Dioscorides, Paper-cut installation and video projection, 2017

Tree of Knowledge, 2017, branch, silk threads and silkscreen on parchments with video projection

Installation view at Ruth Asawa Foundation gallery, San Francisco, 2017

The Ghafiqi Garden, laser-cut wood and screws, 2017, 10 x 4 feet
Installation view, Euphrat Museum of Art at De Anza College, Cupertino, CA
After The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi, Botanical Manuscript, 12th c., Andalusia


The Ghafiqi Garden, detail