Cultivate your garden represents an eternal searching for home and all the great truths about life, of which we can find invisible traces under the mask of everyday's life. Camille Zakharia, a Lebanese artist, in whose work is this searching being captured deeply and honestly, has recast his own experiences into a impressive photographic collage of cities, persons and memories. His art work consists of seven boards and it shows the wandering and discovering through insistent esthetics, which is even strenghthened by strong and imaginative texture and masterly managed arts and crafts of photography.
Cultivate your garden (1998)
Cultivate your garden is a spiritual journey that I undertook in response to my sense of helplessness faced with my inability to change the world around me. My idyllic childhood was ripped apart by the Lebanese civil war, the same war that forced me to leave Lebanon as a young adult. I haven’t returned since.
Everyone reacts differently to traumatic events. Some choose to confront them in the form of political or social activism. I reacted by embarking on a very personal journey of self discovery. Unable to find or create a sense of security on the outside, I constructed a safe spiritual retreat within myself.
The Cultivate Your Garden suite is an autobiographical work that examines the intrinsically intertwined concepts of home, identity and belonging. It is inspired by Voltaire’s literary satirical classic novel, Candide, in which Voltaire ridicules the optimistic theory of “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds”. Candide, the naïve hero of the story, learns this philosophy of life and goes on a series of adventures where he experiences the disaster of war, hunger, sickness and torture. He settles down at the end of the novel to “Cultivate his garden” and seek fulfillment from the modest routine of everyday life.
In this work, because of the Lebanese civil war, I had to leave Lebanon and look for a garden to cultivate. Drawing upon my early photography, I constructed a mythical landscape. This monumental photographic installation is populated by somber, monochromatic figures that dominate the foreground in stark contrast to the rich and colorful background. A hybrid of Beirut, New York, Paris, Bahrain, Turkey, Greece and Canada, places that at one point or another in my life I called home, the dreamscape represents my surreal garden and resonates a sense of displacement.