14:30 PM

Unprecedented Augmented Reality Exhibition to Premiere at 12 Botanical Gardens Across Six Countries in September 2021

Detail image of Mohammed Kazem, Directions (Zero), 2010/2021, Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. Courtesy of the artist.

Featuring AR Works by Artists Including Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui, Isaac Julien CBE RA, Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Sarah Meyohas, Pamela Rosenkranz, and Timur Si-Qin

Exhibition to Open Simultaneously in Australia, Canada, England, Israel, Scotland, South Africa, and the United States

The most ambitious and expansive exhibition to date of contemporary artworks created with augmented reality (AR) technology will premiere across 12 gardens in six countries, opening at all venues between September 20 – 22, 2021. On view for a year, Seeing the Invisible features works by more than a dozen international artists such as Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui, Isaac Julien CBE RA, Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Sarah Meyohas, Pamela Rosenkranz, and Timur Si-Qin—including several artists’ first work in AR. Visitors will engage with Seeing the Invisible via an app designed for the exhibition downloadable to smartphones and tablets. Forging new links between botanical gardens located in diverse biomes around the globe, the exhibition fosters collaboration between institutions, artists, and audiences, highlighting the power of art to connect people around the world.

The first exhibition of its kind to be developed as a joint venture among botanical gardens around the world, Seeing the Invisible was initiated by the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and Outset Contemporary Art Fund with support of The Jerusalem Foundation, and is co-curated by Hadas Maor and Tal Michael Haring. As part of Seeing the Invisible, the Eden Project is also developing accompanying educational programming for children, educators, and families available at every partner institution and online for viewers around the world.

Seeing the Invisible will premiere at:

  • Denver Botanic Gardens (Denver, Colorado, USA)
  • Eden Project (Cornwall, England)
  • Jerusalem Botanical Gardens (Jerusalem, Israel)
  • Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Sarasota, Florida, USA)
  • Massachusetts Horticultural Society (Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA)
  • Royal Botanical Gardens (Ontario, Canada)
  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Cranbourne Gardens (Cranbourne, Australia)
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens (Melbourne, Australia)
  • San Diego Botanic Garden (San Diego, California, USA)
  • Tucson Botanical Gardens (Tucson, Arizona, USA)

Seeing the Invisible will place the same exhibition of commissioned artworks in analogous sites in 12 outdoor garden settings located in different biomes all around the world, creating parallels and contrasts between them. For example, the same work might be set within a group of tall Saguaro cacti in Tucson and among a lush forest of giant redwoods in Edinburgh. The AR nature of the exhibition allows for the creation of expansive, immersive works that engage with existing features of the natural landscape beyond the limitations of what is possible with physical artworks. Many of the works created for the exhibition will address related themes around nature, environment, sustainability, and explore the interplay of the physical world with the digital one.

Among the thirteen AR works created for Seeing the Invisible, highlights include El Anatsui’s first work in AR, adapting one of the artist’s iconic recycled bottle-top installations into an AR tapestry that shimmers gently as though moved by a soft wind; a new work by Sigalit Landau marking the artist’s first foray into AR, offering the viewer endless routes of investigation both around and inside the hidden creeks of a work inspired by the natural formation of a salt stalagmite; a new work by Jakob Kudsk Steensen revolving around the organic shape of a dried branch of cacti, furthering Steensen’s reexamination of desert as omens of life, rather than symbols of death; and a meticulous translation of Ai Weiwei’s Gilded Cage into AR, addressing issues related to power structures, habitats, borders, confinement, and restriction, but also caregiving, preservation, and nurturing.

Seeing the Invisible features AR works by the following artists:

  • Ai Weiwei (b. 1957, Beijing, China; lives and works in multiple locations, including Beijing, China; Berlin, Germany; Cambridge, UK; and Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Refik Anadol (b. 1985, Istanbul, Turkey; lives and works in Los Angeles, USA)
  • El Anatsui (b. 1944, Anyako, Ghana; lives and works in Nigeria)
  • Ori Gersht (b. 1967, Tel Aviv, Israel; lives and works in London, UK)
  • Isaac Julien CBE RA (b. 1960, London, UK; lives and works in London, UK)
  • Mohammed Kazem (b. 1969, Dubai, UAE; lives and works in Dubai, UAE)
  • Sigalit Landau (b. 1969, Jerusalem, Israel; lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • Daito Manabe (b. 1976, Tokyo, Japan; lives and works in Tokyo, Japan)
  • Sarah Meyohas (b. 1991, New York City, USA; lives and works in New York City, USA)
  • Mel O’Callaghan (b. 1975, Sydney, Australia; lives and works in Paris, France)
  • Pamela Rosenkranz (b. 1979, Switzerland; lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland)
  • Timur Si-Qin (b. 1984; lives and works in New York City, USA)
  • Jakob Kudsk Steensen (b. 1987, Denmark; lives and works in Berlin, Germany)

"The exhibition invites viewers to contemplate contemporary notions relating to site and non-site, physical and digital realms. In 1968, when Robert Smithson created his series Site/Nonsite, addressing the tension between outdoors and indoors, scattered and contained, natural and constructed, these themes were at the forefront of theoretical discourse and artistic practice. Today, as questions pertaining to the physical and digital realms become central to our existence, they inevitably become a part of the artistic discussion too, and form the very heart of this exhibition," says Seeing the Invisible Co-Curator Hadas Maor.

“Coming out of the pandemic when outdoor experiences and nature have taken on a new meaning and gravity in our lives, this exhibition represents a fresh way for people to engage with art and nature simultaneously,” added Seeing the Invisible Co-Curator Tal Michael Haring. “The interplay of these augmented reality works in vibrant natural settings breaks down the binary between what is often considered ‘natural’ versus ‘digital,’ and in this way provides an exhibition experience that is much more connected to the way we live today.”

Seeing the Invisible was born out of a collaboration during the pandemic with the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens that opened our eyes to the incredible opportunities for creating an entirely new kind of contemporary art experience within the setting of a botanical garden,” said Outset Contemporary Art Fund Co-Founder Candida Gertler OBE and Outset Contemporary Art Fund Israel Director Mirav Katri. “We are thrilled to be partnering with exceptional gardens from all across the world on this exhibition bridging the physical and digital worlds to create a new phygital model, opening their expertise up to the most cutting-edge technology in contemporary art to develop a new exciting exhibition format beyond the typical museum or gallery space.”

“There is exceptional potential for botanical gardens, with their deep expertise in engaging diverse audiences in their complex work, to lead the way in creating new models for visitor experiences of contemporary art,” added Jerusalem Botanical Gardens Executive Director Hannah Rendell. “We are deeply gratified for the opportunity to forge new connections with partner gardens all across the globe, paving the way for what we hope will be many future collaborations.”

Seeing the Invisible will be accessible via smartphone and tablet through the Seeing the Invisible app, which will be available for iPhone and Android in the App Store and Google Play. Further details will be announced in the coming weeks.

This project has been made possible in partnership with The Jerusalem Foundation. Seeing the Invisible is co-curated by Hadas Maor and Tal Michael Haring, and organized by Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

For additional information and to book entry to each of the participating institutions, please visit: www.seeingtheinvisible.art

Founding Partners

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

The 30-acre Jerusalem Botanical Gardens (JBG) is the largest in Israel and the only one of its kind in the Middle East. JBG boasts Israel’s broadest collection of live plants (over 6,600 species), as well as varieties of plants from around the world. The flora is displayed throughout 6 Phyto-geographical sections – Southern Africa, Europe, North America, Australia, South-East and Central Asia and the Mediterranean.

An oasis in the middle of a dynamic city, JBG provides guided tours, gardening workshops, lectures, and volunteer opportunities for all ages that aim to foster interest in environmental awareness, sustainability and biodiversity.

Outset Contemporary Art Fund

Established in 2003, Outset Contemporary Art Fund is the leading international, independent charity supporting innovative art projects that engage the widest possible audiences. With a presence in nine countries, including Israel. The charity has raised over £13 million worldwide in support of the creative ecosystem. Outset Contemporary Art Fund is recognised for creating influential models of responsive arts philanthropy with its innovative public-private schemes and initiatives. Practicing catalytic philanthropy means not only offering crucial funding support but also activating networks and initiating new relationships and partnerships. The charity was the first to introduce a pioneering paradigm of cross-institution collective patronage to fund challenging artistic projects, and is now proud to operate on a global scale. Outset Contemporary Art Fund is powered by inspiration, driven by expertise, renowned for its engagement, and focused on effective energy and ideas, with a commitment to being there at the outset of impactful change. The Israeli chapter of Outset Contemporary Art Fund was founded in 2008 to strengthen contemporary visual art production in Israel and abroad by supporting new commissions from established and emerging Israeli artists. Outset Contemporary Art Fund Israel seeks to engage international art professionals with the growing talent pool of local artists and encourage international artistic dialogue.