Royaume de lumière

Royaume de Lumière represents some of my thinking on my migration, as well as ways I found to cope with it. As a whole, Royaume de lumière, which takes its title from a Magritte painting, thinks about belonging, migration status, legal documentation, and the language of ‘native’/’invasive’ using images of plants from my (former) garden, wildflowers from the landscape where I lived, and historically introduced plants that have naturalized.

This work has five parts.

Royaume de lumière x 144 comprises 144 small panels (twelve for each month), each depicting an element of the garden I built and left in Belgium. The panels are installed in a grid with empty spaces to represent the impossibility of capturing a complete landscape. A soundscape composed by Matthew Houston from field recordings I took in and around that garden is installed to play in the gallery.

F_l_o_r_a_l_i_e_n is a specimen table containing drawings of each species of plant I included in the garden I made. These are complemented by drawings of “native” and “invasive” wild plants from the garden. The title refers to the Floraliën Festival, a longstanding horticultural event in Ghent, Belgium, and is also a play on the fact of my ‘alien’ status.

Begin the begijn is a self-portrait in a style borrowed equally from the Flemish Primitives and from manga, depicting me as a begijn with my animals, fruit trees, wild and cultivated plants, and the village of Machelen-aan-de-Leie.

We are not nameless will be a collection of ten three-color screenprints, each in an edition of 12, depicting wild and cultivated plants from gardens left behind by immigrants along with the plants’ common names in the language of the speaker and in English, and their scientific names. I plan to conduct interviews with immigrants to the US, conduct botanical research, and then produce the editions. Each print will be accompanied by a sheet with information about the plant and the speaker.

The fifth element of this body of work is a series of small paintings of elements of the landscape of gemeente Zulte, where I lived.

This body of work will eventually include others’ experiences of migration, and document the landscapes and gardens that we leave behind—and build when we arrive.