In ‘Contemplating an Old Memory’ a lentil seed is molded and cast in gold, then left to sprout and grow.
Stéphanie Saadé was one of two artists presented by Beirut-based Marfa’gallery this year at LISTE Art Fair Basel. Often found using gold leaf, for example to cover childhood photographs (‘Golden Memories’) the Lebanon-born artist interjects new ways for the past to meet the present. Previously her work has naturally decomposed (‘My only wish’) or been altered by visitors (‘A Map of Good Memories’). ‘Losing North’, a weather vane featuring a map of Lebanon, spins on itself any way the wind blows. At LISTE, we saw ‘Contemplating an Old Memory ‘ a lentil seed molded and cast in gold, the cast and growing plant exhibited side-by-side.
Saadé manages to reactivate emotional, poetic moments to be shared with the viewer. Here she tells us about her relationship with nature (translated from French):
“Seen from the windows of this same space, an apple, gilded in gold, wither in a very particular garden: the Eden of Madame Salvan, who died a few years ago, who took such good care of her fresh and intimate garden (where a Lebanese cedar dominates by coincidence). Further, a book titled Catalogue d’Exposition is opened and offers the viewer its central double page entirely covered with silver leaf. It is not immediately obvious that this is a book listing the flowers growing in Lebanon, entitled A Thousand and One Flowers of Lebanon. Since its publication, some species have certainly disappeared. But, as a perpetual present, the book with hidden content, he is ‘reflecting’ peacefully. Silver is also the material constituting the constellation of children’s paths on the classroom’s blackboard. All these artworks give way to a certain temporality. The apple will give new seeds to the soil, favoring a renewal of Eden through the possible growth of a ‘Golden’ apple tree. And – conserving but burying more and more the context and the beginning of the projects at hand – whether they are reticular or solid, the silver surfaces will oxidize. As a painting of time, in a way, the artworks will become increasingly autonomous and pictorial, and increasingly ‘art’.”
Contemplating an Old Memory, 2016
Credits: Marfa ‘Gallery
24-carat gold cast of a lentil seed, live lentil sprout seed of the Saami, flat water
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