In this body of work, I investigate how botany became important to the commercial and territorial expansion of Europe beginning in the 18th century. I trace the journey of the Persian Hogweed from Iran to Buckingham Palace, where it was prized as an ornamental plant and eventually reached Canada and the U.S. after the Second World War. As a pawn used in international botanical diplomacy, the Persian Hogweed was desirable until it was no longer useful to this type of political and economic trade.
With the sculptural installation The Constellational Diasporas, I offer a retelling of the plant’s journey across the Atlantic Ocean from a perspective that restores its value as a cherished ingredient in the culinary traditions of Iran. A large quantity of Persian Hogweed seeds were brought over by my mother when she visited me in Canada for the first time. While bringing seeds into Canada is normally prohibited, the seeds of this plant fell into an acceptable gray zone, given their use as a spice. In this work, a single seed is suspended resin which fills a small sphere of hand-blown glass. These roughly 700 spheres of multiple hues of blue evoke the aquatic, floating like clusters of cells. Scattered and constantly ‘en route,’ they float in a liminal space of kinship, simultaneously separate and together. This gift from mother to daughter is thus transformed into a poetic expression of longing and the safeguarding of cultural memory.