Relli de Vries
Amaryllis Belladonna, by Relli de Vries, is a cast stone sculpture of the roots of an amaryllis belladonna – a mature tuber whose roots were forced to develop within the confined container in which it was planted. This plant appears in myths as an historical expression of beauty, love, and longing. The young girl Amaryllis, named after the plant )or perhaps the plant was named after her(, is the object of love in various Greek myths and in Roman and Renaissance culture. An operatic aria, based on the story of a man in love with Amaryllis, serves as the soundtrack, which can be heard on the earphones provided.
In casting the living roots into an artistic fossil, de Vries conveys existential constraint. This fossil is a casting from which liquid has been expropriated, and now is displaced into a bucket of water hanging below. This work converses with ancient practices of controlling Nature, such as that adopted by Herod the Great, in which plants were grown in pots buried in the ground.
Appropriation, adoption of Nature’s beauty for the purposes of self-definition, and its restraint within containers – all these characterize processes of domestication and acculturation of ornamental plants from Herod’s time to our own. The cast of roots created by de Vries is in fact a weight unit that expresses these values, thereby offering a new way of thinking about the relationship between plants and humans, between nature and culture.
Relli de Vries
Stone casting, rope, pulley, bucket, water
Courtesy of the artist
Soundtrack: Giulio Caccini, Amarilli Mia Bella (1601 or earlier), lyrics by Giovanni Battista Guarini, performed by Cecilia Bartoli (1992)
Courtesy of the Mark Lee Greenstein Music Library,
The Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, Tel Aviv University