SINKING GARDENS 2012
In the Press:
XiXi National Park
China Academy of Art
The Sinking Gardens - a collaborative landscape intervention by Alan Waxman and Nikola Bojic - was built in Hangzhou’s XiXi National Wetland Park. The park is a massive green driver of urban development, displacing thousands for scenery and luxury apartments, gentrification on a grand scale. The intervention weaves together narratives of community solidarity with the aims of the China Academy of Art, providing a new social ground for displaced families as named participants. Boats emerge from topographies loaded with erased family memories, carrying earth and grass to form new land to be walked and explored. Each boat honors one family that lived for generations in XiXi. In the first slide, family fathers Hong, Jiang, and Shen dedicate the memorial atop their "sinking gardens."
Built 2012, sunken 2017. The Sinking Gardens was - or I should say IS - about change. It is about destruction and trauma embodied in beauty. It is about removal. It is about a palimpsest of time in the stream of life. In particular, the Sinking Gardens of Hangzhou is about the vacancy of memory, the void memory leaves in its path, a footprint - the acknowledgement of removal. Families and houses are long replaced by trinket shops, waiters, and period actors. Boats-as-living-ecological-industry are replaced by boats as ticket to romantic view.
While "the sinking gardens" has been removed, the lake is preserved, the walkway is preserved; and the process of The Sinking Gardens is perhaps even more strongly declared. Dewdrops dry in morning light. Music vibrations still. Removal is naturalized by the sublime, as if to announce silence in beauty. Sinking, sunk, sunken. The forever Sinking (as gerund) gardens is the story of change and emptiness that has been re-appropriated for greening, filling the void with a pretty view, and in this case returning a small family monument to void once again.