In 1963, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Kirstenbosch, the national botanical garden of South Africa in Cape Town commissioned a series of flms to document the history of the garden, the Cape Floral Kingdom, and the jubilee celebrations with their ‘national’ dances, pantomimes of colonial conquests, and visits of international botanists. The flms’ protagonists, scientists, visitors, etc. are all white, while the only Indigenous Black Africans featured are labourers. Considered neutral and passive, fowers were excluded from the international anti-apartheid boycott of South Africa until the late 1980s, leaving botanical nationalism and fower diplomacy to fourish unchecked at home and internationally
. The flms have not been seen since 1963 and were found by the artist in the cellar of the library of the Kirstenbosch botanical garden. Orlow collaborated with actor Lindiwe Matshikiza, who puts herself and her body in these loaded pictures, inhabiting and confronting the found footage and thus contesting history and the archive itself.
The artist’s participation is made possible with support from Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.