Nous ne notons pas les fleurs (2010), video triptych, three-channel unsynchronised video loop, no audio (remote control for each video made available to viewers).
Nous ne notons pas les fleurs is a multi-form work exploring the ideas of mobility and the impermanence of political borders in contrast to the tendency to freeze them. The title of this work, Nous ne notons pas les fleurs, is taken from a dialogue in Le Petit Prince (de Saint-Exupéry, 1943), where a geographer tells the Little Prince that geographers do not record flowers because, unlike the earth, flowers are ephemeral. The work originally took form as an installation and interactive performance at Soil Bite, Khoj International Workshop 2009 in Patna, India, before taking the form of the above video triptych of the same title. The work was informed by the local context – Bihar, the state of which Patna is the capital, has the highest rate of out-migration in India, and is part of the eastern region in which border problems are prominent.
The video triptych shows the map of India through a single angle, yet from three different perspectives. The single angle is the bird’s-eye view of the recording. The three perspectives differ because each portrays the event partially, through different time-scales and a different time-ranges.
The left screen portrays only the process of shaping the map, referring to the man-made process of nation building. The centre screen portrays only the process of evolution of the shape where no human is visible, referring to the natural process of geographical evolution. The right screen portrays only the process of blurring the borders, referring to the man-made process of a revolution. The three videos – as a triptych – serve as an allusion to the trinity.
It is because of the allegorical nature of Le Petit Prince that I chose to quote the phrase, we do not record flowers, and use it as the title of this work. I chose to use flowers exactly for their ephemerality, and recorded the flowers for the same reason. Based on the four-colour map theorem that I have discovered when I started working with cartography on Terra Incognita, et cetera, I used four types of fragrant flower buds that I took off from the commonly used garlands for celebration and religious ceremonies in India: the yellow marigold, orange marigold, white tuberose, and red hibiscus.
I mixed the buds of these four types of flowers together and spread the mix to form a bed of flowers. Then I shaped the map by painstakingly separating the flower buds in a bed of flowers into regions of the same colour, following the outlines of the map of India and all its states. When I finished shaping the map, I asked the audience to trace their route of movements and migrations from one state to the other. The whole process was recorded with a video camera from above, resembling the bird’s-eye view of a cartographer.
Thanks to: Khoj International Workshop, Shambhavi Singh, Sharmila Samant, Rajesh Ram, Binod Kumar Gupta, Arvind Singh, Naresh Kumar, Suchismita Mohanty, Vichukorn Tangpaiboon, Moe Satt, Akhsay Rathore, Pradeep Thallwata, Ranjeeta Kumari, sister Prema, sister Suma, father Joe, Margaret and others at Taru Mitra.