THE METHUSHELAH SHADOW
in collaboration with Galina Bleikh
Installation, Video, Photographs
We were born and grew up in Russia. The Russian folk song “The Thin Rowan” performed by the famous singer Lydmila Zykina, familiar to us from our childhood, became one of our cultural codes. It is about unrequited love, where human feelings are attributed to two trees – a male oak and a female rowan. These two trees stand on either side of the road, across from each other. They are destined to be separate and unable to reach one another.
The second half of our life we live in Israel. Today we identify ourselves with its culture and traditions. The exciting story of the rebirth of the ancient palm tree was brought to the attention of the Israeli public by the media. This gave us the hope that in our days we could recreate the lost landscape and repair the damage caused to nature by man. A unique palm tree, to which Israeli scientists coined the name, ‘Methushelah’, referring to the Biblical personality that symbolizes wisdom, grew on the land of Israel. This is thanks to the efforts of the biologist Dr. Elaine Solowey, 1500 years after the complete disappearance of this specific species.
An ancient seed, dated from approximately 1500 years ago, was discovered by the famous archaeologist, Yigal Yadin, in the historical Jewish fortress, Masada, located in the Judean Desert. The tree, enabled to be grown by Israeli bio-technologies, turned out to be male. In order to produce offspring, a female specimen is needed. At the moment, biologists are uncertain that this problem can be solved. The solitude of the palm tree, resurrected after so many years of hibernation, affected our imagination and gave the impetus for the idea of this project.
The Russian folk song about the unrequited love of trees and the history of the loneliness of ancient Methushelah became a combined metaphor for us.
The tree is rooted in the earth. One revived tree returns its’ memory of the past to the desert, to the time when this land gave life to an abundance of fruit trees. Palma was one of seven major plants (the Seven Species) to capture the shadow of the crown of the palm tree Methushelah on Israel soil, and then to project the resulting video to the soil of the country where we are going to show our project. This method will allow us to feel authenticity, the aura of this incredible story. Therefore, information about the lonely palm tree, ancient and revived in our days, becomes part of the history of the world.
For us, Dendro Art is not only a fashionable international brand but also a personal, emotional and expressive statement. People have had a dream about a time-machine that would enable them to touch the ancient world, previously believed to be irretrievably lost. The newest biotechnologies therefore, accomplish that which was considered impossible until now. Our generation is fortunate to be participants in this process.
- – Sky. Group exhibition. Shanxi University Art Center, Taiyuan, China. Curator: Elena Chumina.
- – MANOFIM. International conference, organised by Jerusalem Contemporary Art Festival, Jerusalem, Israel, with Lilia Chak, MindLab - Jens Hauser, Dar Moussafir, Carmel Barnea Brezner Jonas, Jonatan Omer Mizrahi, Tzaphira Allison Stern, Ivor Stodolsky, Marina Naprushkina, Dmitry Vilensky. Art, Biology and Ecology.
- – Olga Kisseleva, Lilia Chak,
Adopters of Creative Technologies, article , The Encyclopedia of New Media Art: Volume 2: Artists & Practice, Bloomsbury, London.
- – Lilia Chak,
Contemporary Practices in Bio-art: When a Tree Becomes an Artwork, book published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing (ISBN: 1-5275-1949-X; ISBN13: 978-1-5275-1949-7; Pages: 562; Color illustration: 174).
- – Elena Chumina,
Небо, article, St. Petersburg Union of Designers. Russia.
- – The leaves of Methushelah. 1/7. Shanxi University Art Center, Taiyuan, China.