Garden of Secrets
"Garden of Secrets"; Fountain, paint, paper, wood, text /poem, bees wax; 35'L x 50'W x 12'H; House structure 12'L x 12'W x 8'H; Each butterfly 5"L x 3"W; ©1995 Seyed Alavi
This project for the University Art Museum, Long Beach, California, was created in response to the site, and particularly its larger context of the library and the University. Garden of Secrets alludes to the symbolic nature of language, most especially as it is experienced in poetry.
This piece grew out of the challenge inherent in the architecture of the gallery itself, namely the fact the a large, permanent planter occupied the center of the space. This planter was transformed into a fountain, and encased in a house of translucent paper.
Three thousands paper butterflies, cut from replicas of Persian Sufi poetry books, and coated with beeswax, covered the walls and ceiling of the room.
These butterflies, aloft with poetry on their wings, are symbols of thought, discourse, and intellectual communion, just as the books from which they are derived refer to knowledge and the museum/ library in which they are found. Garden of Secrets, in its totality, is a metaphor for communication in all its mysterious forms, for the role of language, and for the way in which knowledge is ultimately cognized. Seyed Alavi
The following text was painted, using melted bees wax, on the four walls of the house structure:
"The house is left empty, save for the Truth, For in a moment the world has passed away; Then you, rid of self, fly upwards And are united to the Beloved. Union is yours when this dream-world Fades and dies away."
"This World A Mirage" by Mahmud Shabistari
* Garden of Secrets
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