Fatma Bucak So as to find the strength to see, installation view and detail, Fondation Merz, Turin, 2018.
Photos : Renato Ghiazza, courtesy of the artist, Pi Artworks, London & Alberto Peola Gallery, Turin

Fatma Bucak: The Damask Rose

Anaïs Castro
In late 2016 and early 2017, a rose garden grew out of a rectangular metallic structure in the middle of the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. A year later, that same garden was replanted, this time in a large pile of soil unloaded at the Merz Foundation in Turin, Italy. Upon first glance, these actions might allude to the expression of Land Art, a romantic reference to the once-subversive practices of Walter De Maria, Robert Smithson, and Agnes Denes. But behind Fatma Bucak’s Damascus Rose (2016– ongoing) is a poetic story of courage that recounts the tale of a valiant gesture for survival.

At the height of the Syrian Civil War, Bucak worked with a network of anonymous collaborators to move young cuttings of the iconic rosa damascena from the Syrian capital to New England, via Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Turkey. After a delayed arrival, only seventeen of the fifty cuttings had survived the journey. These botanic survivors were grafted onto “host” rose plants and then replanted in a gallery space tens of thousands of kilometres from their motherland.

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This article also appears in the issue 99 - Plants
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