Relli de Vries and Dr. Dafna Langgut
The hero of the film by Relli de Vries is a grain of pollen, microscopic in size, which has survived in fossilized form for thousands of years. These microscopic fossils enable the contemporary researcher, Dr. Dafna Langgut, to regenerate ancient plant life – in this case, Herod’s royal garden in Caesarea from two thousand years ago. Identifying the species of plants in the garden teaches us about King Herod’s power and about his garden as a site where humans gain control over Nature.
Herod’s garden helped block salty sea spray and established control over the sources of fresh-water irrigation. It took possession of Nature, as well as organized human movement within it. Moreover, the garden was a political space reflecting imperial trading ties. A walk through the royal garden, with its plants brought from many places, is like a symbolic walk among worlds. The film heralds a blooming garden to be planted during the exhibition in the gallery’s outdoor sculpture garden. The garden will convert Dr. Langgut’s innovative archeological findings into a palpable experience in the present.
The film focuses on the free-floating movement of the pollen grain, whose task is to pollinate the flower, making it a vital link in the chain of life. These grains have particularly strong cell walls, enabling them to be preserved for thousands of years, and their fascinating geometrical form is intended to attract pollinating insects. Such grains surround us, although we do not normally notice them. De Vries’ film shows their complex forms and functions, identifying them as key figures in research on ancient reproductive systems.
The garden that is to bloom in the gallery will reflect practices of pruning, cultivation in miniature, and plant design according to models that do not necessarily suit the plant’s character. The unique scale of the Herodian garden, derived from the relationship of the great man to the diminished nature, creates a sense that the human body contains Nature and rules over it. This project permits us to probe the power relationships in royal botanical structures, examine their ecological costs, and contemplate questions of future viability.
Dr. Dafna Langgut Archaeobotany (Tel Aviv University), researches botanical remains at archaeological sites to restore ancient vegetation and climate.
In the exhibition there is a microscope with an example of Pollen and Dr. Langotte's lab booklet.
Relli de Vries
Three-dimension film, length: 2 minutes
Animation: Michael Sokolov
Sound: Roni Hajaj
Courtesy of the artist