emotional garden


A key theme explored in the performance piece Emotional Garden is the human desire to act upon nature. Movement/Nature: Guided Exercises by Artists, an online project curated by OCADU’s Criticism and Curatorial Practice MFA program students. Since the original performace this project evolved two main components: a photo series and a video series. Through the act of planting dahlia tubers, the first video focuses on nourishment, manifestation, and the body. Dahlia tubers cannot freeze therefore, need to be removed from the soil in the fall—the removal of the dahlia tubers is the visual anchor of the second video. Debuted at Between Pheasants Contemporary, the second performance Emotional Garden ii, focuses on sanctuary, sites of renewal, and the places we return to (not nostalgia or going home—but where we choose to reside). Using the dahlia blooms from the tubers planted in the original Emotional Garden video, the print series visually plays on the motifs: decay, deception, reflection, and obscuration. The photo series continued through the summer of 2021 where every bloom from the dahlia’s  were photographed.

Often considered an indicator of spring and a metaphor for renewal, the performance Emotional Garden elaborates on the importance of care, tenderness and follow-through by planting dahlia bulbs. Seeds do not need humans to be planted; they will spread and grow as they have for millennia. Humans need to plant seeds in order to cultivate food. By planting dahlia bulbs, this performance plays with the human desire to act upon nature. As the first gardening gesture of the year, the performance alludes to subsequent gestures: the dahlia growing, blooming and eventually returning to the soil.

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