This two-channel video installation comprises an empty Persian carpet that is spread in front of a large screen featuring scenic moving images. Floating on a panel, the carpet, a family heirloom of mine, invites the viewer to take part in a dream-like voyage.
The video features magical scenery of lush landscapes. Taking us through rivers and lands, the smooth and leisurely-moving images have been put together from footage shot by the surveillance drones that were tasked to locate and capture the giant hogweed in Canada. Engaged in the act of excavating, I weeded out the rapid and violent movements of these surveillance videos to brought about the dream-like flight over landscapes to invite the viewers to reflect differently on our relationship with nature.
The video is centred on the plant Heracleum persicum, also known as Giant Hogweed. Native to Iran (my country of origin), it is among the displaced specimens during the colonial era that are categorized now as “alien and invasive” in Canada. The work reflects on the relationships between humans, plants and place, and examines how notions such as “native” and “non-native” as the enduring legacies of colonialism, have created artificial landscapes and skewed relationships between humans and plants.
The question of how a plant venerated in my homeland could become known here in Canada 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.
Two-channel video installation, 26 min, continuous loop