The Teaching Tree

59th Venice Biennale
23 April - 27 November 2022

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"I came across the stories of Al Khidr, 'The Green Man', a character of Islamic and world mythology. Made of plant matter, his role was to be cut or decapitated, destroyed and grow back to life and even beyond his past limitation in order to change the course of history. [...] The sculpture is a symbol for the natural course of life with all of its complexity, suggesting there is always more to learn, another place to go, and another path to find."
- Muhannad Shono

Muhannad Shono, “The Teaching Tree,” 2022 - Photo © Simone Cherubini | Courtesy the Artist

For the 2022 edition of the Venice Biennale, Factum Arte worked with Muhannad Shono on the site-specific installation for the National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia. 

The Teaching Tree is a 260-square-meter sculptural work made of dried palm leaves, blackened and applied over a metallic structure animated by a pneumatic machine. The work expands and contracts inside the space both visually and mechanically, giving it the impression of calm and steady breathing. 

The palm leaves were coated in layers of fire retardant, oil-based paint and pigment in an acrylic resin – giving a brittle and burnt appearance. Tests were carried out in Madrid by Silvia Álvarez before Alexander Carey-Morgan and Bradley Childs coated the vast amount of organic material in Mestre.

The sculpture was installed inside the Arsenale by the artist’s workshop and We Exhibit. 

Flecks of pigment, detaching from the leaves over the course of the Biennale, slowly and organically changed the appearance of the sculpture. 

Pigment tests in Madrid © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Arte

The palm leaves being painted in Venice

Detail of the coating and the natural leaves © Bradley Childs

Muhannad Shono, “The Teaching Tree,” 2022 - Photo © Simone Cherubini | Courtesy the Artist

Muhannad Shono, “The Teaching Tree,” 2022 - Photo © Simone Cherubini | Courtesy the Artist

Muhannad Shono, “The Teaching Tree,” 2022 - Photo © Simone Cherubini | Courtesy the Artist


 

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