Remains is inspired by fond recollections of foraging for Persian hogweed with my grandmother. During my residency at the Grantham Foundation for Arts and Environment, I found the remains of a castrated Persian hogweed with its flowers removed. To preserve its memory, I casted the plant in plaster. Given the plant’s height, it was cast in several sections from which I created a positive relief in a series of square, tile-like forms. The fine detail achieved in the plaster reliefs almost brings the plant back to life. Plaster relief is an ancient practice used to tell a story, most often a historical event or a legend. Likewise, my reliefs tell a story, but one with many gaps. Arranged to infer a sense of the whole plant, the spaces I leave between the sections speak to the impossibility of reconciling the fragments of loss that the migratory experience entails. But strength and resilience can also grow from the knowledge gained from living “in between.” Despite unfamiliar soil, climate, and attempts at annihilation, this delicate work is proof that the Persian hogweed has survived.

Biographical note

Anahita Norouzi is a multidisciplinary artist, born in Tehran and living in Montréal since 2018. Her research-driven practice is instigated by marginalized histories and the legacies of botanical explorations and archaeological excavations, particularly when scientific research became entangled in the colonial exploitation of non-Western geographies. Her work interrogates different cultural and political perspectives on the human and non-human “other,” underlining the complex space and conflicted state of displaced people, plants, and cultural artefacts, and the responsibilities of the host country.