THE PALM IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE PALM
by Iwo Borkowicz and Ola Korbańska
The planet is a garden, I infer that each and every citizen has a role of a gardener wherever they are aware of it or not. Each one has an action on this garden.
The landscape we construct and inhabit is governed by a precise set of man-made rules. Our desire for order and aesthetical beauty is understandable as it gives us comfort and a sense of control. Environments we perceive as harmonious feel safe. Human ingenuity made it gradually easier to disconnect ourselves from the chaotic, messy and unpredictable imagery of the full life cycle of the ecosystem.
The third landscape is a notion created and cultivated by french gardener and landscape architect Gilles Cl.ment.
It is a space handed over from man back to nature, trusting it’s wisdom and letting biological diversity and landscape evolution to develop by not interrupting the process: human action of not doing can become a vital principle.
2/ Palm trees from Jardim do Largo 1. de Maio
Palms encountered on the square have an interesting history – they were planted in front of the Court House where they spend their youth. From there, some years later they were transferred and replanted on a square where we can see them now, dying slowly eaten by the invasive Red Palm Weevil. It is indeed, a sad event, however one can see the potential in it.
Decay is an essential part in the life cycle of vegetation, which – we cannot forget – is circular: dead matter gives space, but mostly, makes the ground fertile for the future generations and this principle we would like to embrace.
Reusing the palms’ material would give them, in a poetic but also literal, tangible sense, the opportunity to remain in the natural cycle and constitute the base for new life.
We situate the installation (more about which, further) on the other side of the river – this location initiates a dialog with a place where the palms use to live, but it is also place of wilderness which resonates well with the concept of the project.
3/ Seed bomb columns / Long live the palm tree
We used the idea of the seed bomb- fertile ball of clay, compost and seeds of plants mixed together in order to sow plants- and translate it into a large scale, ambitious environmental installation. By using the technique of rammed earth, build a column-shaped objects, which cylindrical form refers to shape of a palm tree and the architectural phenomenon known as a victory column.
The material from dead, cut off palms from Jardim do Largo 1. de Maio, was milled and incorporate into the building material, together with local soil, constituting compost for the seeds hidden inside. In time, columns will slowly decay, destroyed by the weather conditions and plants starting to grow from it, to finally disappear completely and form a place of intact vegetation.
The arrangement of the five columns -an arch line- alludes to the original position of five palm trees on the square.
One can have an impression that the dead palm trees literally appeared in the new, next in their journey, place maintaining previous layout, gaining however the new materiality and potential.
The round platform/bench standing next to the columns is a part of the installation – it invites people to observe and, ultimately, do nothing. The edge of the bench is outlined with captions: THE PALM TREE IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE PALM TREE. emphasizing the concept of circularity in a world of nature. Use of the orange color, is a visual intervention and it is inspired by the color of Red Palm Weevil, which caught our attention since the very beginning.
+ As an additional part of a project, we produced small seed bombs in a shape of dates – palm fruit – and give them to people together with the story of the project. This inspired the audience to engaging and therefore become informed via the act of conservation. At the end, the cycle of building ecosystem is constant, happening right now, and it is in our hands.