Golpar is a plant native to the territory known as Iran and is particularly beloved as a distinctive spice used in Persian cuisine. Its literal translation is flower-wing or flower-feather, evoking the petal-like translucence of its mericarps. Here in the West, where the plant was first introduced in the 19th century, it is known as Giant Hogweed, meaning feral pigs’ feed. This figurative disparity in the appellation of the plant from one territory to the other denotes a linguistic hostility which became a source of fascination and study for artist Anahita Norouzi, and the premise of her recent body of work.
The question of how a plant venerated in her homeland could become known here in the West as a gargantuan, toxic, invasive, and unwanted weed, led me to a yearlong interdisciplinary study of the plant, at once journalistic, botanical, archeological, cultural, and historical. This deep dive into the many facets of how a plant gains meaning in the collective imagination has allowed me to draw vivid parallels to geopolitical discourse and the rhetoric around human migration and imperialism which point to how structural racism and xenophobia can operate in the most subtle of ways.