Across Gulf cities, nature is increasingly experienced as simulacra, from artificial rainforests to simulated ski slopes, plastic flowers to mummified palm trees, butterfly gardens to neon forests, blurring the distinction between the natural and the artificial. Yet some of these arrangements have given rise to novel ecosystems utilized by other species.
Zedani’s Between Biotic and Bionic (2022) is an installation that amplifies this tension by engaging with elements of the region’s specific flora and geology to examine how nature, landscape, and environment are understood, experienced and consumed across the contemporary Gulf.
The installation brings together sound, lighting, sculpture and plants integrated into a fountain. Within the meditative space, it creates individual elements for the audience, prompting several questions upon close inspection. The sculptures are made from welded metal, before being covered in resurrection plant (a plant able to withstand extreme dehydration), Kaff Maryam, to create animal-like forms called ’The Emergents’. Surrounding these sculptures, red brick and earthenware bases are used for an installation of plants and trees, alongside a system of dynamic smart lights and audio. The work intends to be playful yet engages with urgent ecological matters that require our collaborative attention.