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Mapping and the Botanical Garden (film) 2018 (ABOUT)

Our narratives are filled with stories of gardens and plants as creation myths while colonial discourse itself uses botanical metaphors such as roots, weed out, alien, grow, borders, grounded, raked etc. Gardening brings an aesthetic but also shifts spaces and transplants. It can create displacement and enforced power constructs through perceived cultivation, often seeking to displace the indigenous flora as well as establish familiarity for the colonist. Essentially the garden’s ‘ambivalence functions as a space to negotiate the complex exchanges between colonial and postcolonial, between oppression and independence. It is imitation and recreation. It is the stamp of Empire with nostalgic longing of replicating the motherland. Gardens create borders which can contain and keep out while institutions such as Kew created exotic collections by plundering the colonies and essentially invading other lands with 'plant hunters'.
The Victorian garden aspired towards Eden and Botanical Gardens were cultivated throughout British colonial territories. Most of these gardens survive and in South Africa it is ironic that for many years those who labored in these gardens did not actually have access to it for leisure or enjoyment. Essentially, cultivation required ‘labour’ and the Victorian garden in all its idealism, overseen by the white master, necessitated the toil of the ‘other’.
A large part of the film involves maps which suggest not only boundaries and territories but also divisions. With movement and diaspora these maps are then overlaid or transferred. Examples of this cultural routing and geographical mapping can be found in the work of Yinka Shonibare whose prints and sculptures reflect the ‘transnational character of the designs and their tracing of colonial trade routes’.( Kasfir, S,L. (1999) Contemporary African Art. London, Thames and London Ltd.) One hundred and twelve maps were hand drawn by me, scanned and then Photoshopped to create an animation effect in Adobe Premiere. 
Looking at the Afrikaans language was significant too. Initially the poem (in English and Afrikaans) would roll over the images as writing but it became important to speak the words so that the language could exist orally and be heard by the viewer thus creating a further overlay of conflicting culture. The film works through abstraction in order to link the idea of transference through the floral and bead imagery. Here the influence of Pipilotti Rist was vital as the viewer was not meant to be given too much. The viewer has to be curious- a cultural voyeur. 

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