© 2005 by Elfriede Dreyer

Hanging gardens, 2009. Multichannel video on DVD, 4 mins 58 , 2009, Edition: 3

 

In nineteenth century literature and art, escapism manifested in utopian visions of green worlds, arcadias and

fantastic gardens created in response to the fear and horrors of urban crowding and industrialisation. Utopians

such as Carlyle and Ruskin invoked the world of flowers and cultivation as an antidote to the city. Even the hanging gardens of Babylon were built by Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 BCE in order to please his sick wife, Amytis of Media, who longed for the trees and fragrant plants of her homeland Persia. Gardens, including green sports fields, also refer to Eden, cultivation, civilisation, leisure and power games.In Hanging gardens, the idea of the synthetic “garden” is articulated; the utopian hope that maybe we will have “immaculate lawns” if we use special fertilizer. Framing a polluted view of the CBD of Pretoria, the lush African shrubbery speak of colonial, Nationalist, struggle and other dreams of the good life, freedom and prosperity, often leading to devastating consequences.This geographical 'map' has always been a critically significant cultural hub where ideologies have been playing out, envisioned in the work’s pictorial texture of embroidery, pixelisation and Lego blocks.