Untitled (Botanical Garden)

Series of ten photographs,
archival paper
2006/7


During the Soviet period, the immense natural resources of Kazakhstan were studied extensively and in many cases exploited almost to extinction.
The botanical gardens represent the Soviet vision to categorize and control nature in the service of a political ideal (whether to feed the whole country, or to create new DNA). These dreams are no longer part of Kazakhstan’s aspirations, and the gardens and buildings are falling into disrepair.

The pictures have a dreamlike quality, evoking a city or settlement that has been abandoned and for whatever reason, left to ruin: a no-place that is alive and growing yet empty of people. The ‘zone’ from Tarkovsky’s film The Stalker comes to mind.
Grids evoke the taxonomies of botany as well as the ‘squaring off’ used since Renaissance painting. At the same time the pictures point to a utopian desire for an architectural environment that is living, that — like plants and people — ages, disintegrates, and dies.