Installation at John Hartell Gallery, Cornell University (2015)
Neon, bulbs, aluminum, mixed media
Each 48 x 48 x 12 inch
Titles: Cocoxochitl, Karkadé, Mokran, Padma, Seamróg, Shaqa'iq an-numan
Cocoxochitl - dahlia [Mexico]
Karkadé - hibiscus [Sudan]
Mokran - magnolia [North Korea]
Padma - lotus [India]
Seamróg - clover [Ireland]
Shaqa'iq an-numan - poppy [Palestine]
azadi-e nasim mubarak kih har taraf
tute pare hain halqah-e dam-e hava-e gul
Celebrate the breeze's freedom: everywhere lie broken
Meshes of the flower’s net of desire.
The nation-state forms the most important and universally recognized form of sovereignty in the world today. However, as Benedict Anderson had recognized, imagination plays a central role in how individuals cognize the nation. Nation-states ascribe various forms of pageantry exclusive to themselves in order to express their singularity. Among other emblems, flowers have also become specific national symbols, even though they grow over a wide geographic range, and can truly be characterized as "contested botanicals."
Efflorescence denotes radiance, the blooming of a flower, and the flowering of civilization, but also bears negative valences such as discoloration. This doubled sense of the word provides an apt title for this series of large-scale illuminated sculptures of the national flowers of contested regions. Inspired by popular commercial signage, the works jump scale in their materiality and dimension: their industrial artifice acknowledges the manner in which delicate natural forms are deployed as fixed emblems to vindicate intangible claims of identity.