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Tania El Khoury: Gardens Speak

Gardens Speak

Across Syria, many gardens conceal the dead bodies of activist and protect the living from the violent thrusts of the regime. These domestic burials play our a continuing collaboration between the living and the dead, the dead protect the living by not exposing them to further danger at the hands of the state and the living protect the dead by conserving and nurturing their identities and their stories in the ground, by not allowing their deaths to become instruments to the regime through potential disappearance, anonymity and forgotten history.


Gardens Speak is an interactive sound installation containing the oral histories of 10 ordinary people who have been buried in Syrian gardens. Each narrative has been carefully constructed with the friends and family members of the deceases to retell their stories as they themselves would have recounted it. They are compiled with archival audio that bears witness to their final moments.


Fierce Says: I don’t often dig soil with my bare hands. Living in a city the smell of soil can easily be forgotten. The act evokes childhood games, unearths memories, very opposite to the context of digging in this work. I am reminded bearing witness is a political act, that mainstream news is produced and constructed and individuals can equally gather stories and construct news of their own. The narrative war is as vital as the corporeal one.