Pairing Installations: Whispering Rainbow and Shelter for a Memory

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Whispering Rainbow by Hanieh Alizadeh, Mahmoud Ganji, Mehdi Rabie (EOT design studio). Satin ribbon. Hefdah-E-Shahrivar Street, Tehran, 2015. Photo via EOT design studio's Facebook.

Hanieh Alizadeh, Mahmoud Ganji, Mehdi Rabie (EOT design studio). Whispering Rainbow, 2012. Satin ribbon. Hefdah-E-Shahrivar Street, Tehran. Photo via EOT design studio’s Facebook.

When every object we touch is factory-made, are manufactured environments somehow more real? Both Alexandra Kehayoglou’s Shelter for a Memory and EOT design studio’s Whispering Rainbow are knowingly synthetic; they mimic the earth’s beauty as a tribute by celebrating some of the most joyful natural elements. Shelter for a Memory’s delight arises from a collaboration between man and nature — a wooden swing that within the myth of the scene hangs from a towering, enveloping tree. In a similar way, Whispering Rainbow is a collaboration through appropriation, a reenvisioning of a rainbow remade in 150 rolls of satin ribbon (a potentially natural medium). When the wind blew the satin shook to create the sound of rain, adding an audible dimension to the rainbow’s recreation.

Whispering Rainbow evokes only happiness, and its installation across a public street in Tehran makes seeing it fun and serendipitous. Shelter for a Memory differs in both respects: viewers enter its space with certain expectations because of its place in a gallery, and the scene’s deliberate edges create a conceptual frame that conveys a sense of disillusionment and inauthenticity when seen from a distance. But its title acknowledges the potential for fiction in nostalgia, and Kehayoglou creates her wool rugs through a hand-tufting process that lends a truth to the piece. Together, both installations ask: can an artificial environment carefully crafted by human hands be more real than the nature it imitates?

Shelter for a Memory by Alexandra Kehayoglou. Wool, paint, wood, rope. 2012.

Alexandra Kehayoglou. Shelter for a Memory, 2012. Wool, paint, wood, rope. Photo: Artist’s website.

Hanieh Alizadeh, Mahmoud Ganji, Mehdi Rabie (EOT design studio). Whispering Rainbow, 2012. Satin ribbon. Hefdah-E-Shahrivar Street, Tehran. Photo via EOT design studio's Facebook.

Hanieh Alizadeh, Mahmoud Ganji, Mehdi Rabie (EOT design studio). Whispering Rainbow, 2012. Satin ribbon. Hefdah-E-Shahrivar Street, Tehran. Photo: EOT design studio’s Facebook.


This text was originally written for a class titled Installation Art: Design & Change at Pratt.

You can also read more pairings on the Pairings: Blog set up by our professor, Kim Connerton, PhD.

12 Artworks Where People Turn Into Trees & Trees Turn Into People

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In Greek and Roman mythology, Daphne was a nymph whose beauty attracted the attention of the god of music, poetry and a bunch of other things: Apollo. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Apollo falls in love with her because the god of love, Eros, wants to get back at him for making fun of his archery skills (a little much right?). He shoots Apollo in the heart with an arrow made of gold to make him fall in love, and he shoots Daphne with a lead arrow to incite hate, pitting the two against each other and driving Apollo crazy. Eventually Apollo is chasing Daphne so she calls out to her mother Gai who rescues her by transforming her into a laurel tree.

But that’s not the only ancient tale about people turning into trees. Ovid tells another story in Metamorphoses VIII about an old couple, Baucis and Philemon, who were the only ones in the town to invite the disguised gods, Zeus (Greek)/Jupiter (Roman) and Hermes/Mercury, into their home even though they were much poorer than their neighbors. They were taken up to a mountain by the gods, who flooded the town once they were safe, and their house was transformed into a temple. They were made the guardians of the temple, and were also granted their request to die at the same time as the other. When they did die, they was transformed into a pair of intertwining trees, one oak and one linden.

But from the looks of it, there are probably a lot more reasons why people turn into trees. Maybe trees can even turn into people, Pocahontas-style.

1. Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison‘s “Winter Arm”

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2. “paciencia” by Deerl

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 3. “Apollo and Daphne” by 

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4. artist unknown

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5. “Apollo Pursuing Daphne” by Birney Quick (1912-1981)

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6. by Andrea

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7. “Philemon and Baucis” by Matheus Jean, 1619

Philemon and Baucis, from an edition of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, published in Paris in 1619, (engraving)

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8. Beatriz Martin Vidal‘s “Daphne and Apollo

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9. artist unknown

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10. Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s “Apollo and Daphne,” 1622-1625

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11.  artist unknown

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12. “Baucis and Philemon,” artist unknown

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Know any of the artists featured above? Is your work up there? Email me and let me know!

And if you have your own transforming tree art to add, please comment!