Oxygen, 2006

Abdulnasser Gharem
Oxygen, 2006
Performance, Plastic bag


Flora and Fauna

Since the dawn of time nature has found a way to balance all its elements in order to live in a state of equilibrium. This state is known to us as the ecosystem. This system contains many elements that keep it in balance. Some are smart elements, others are less intelligent and most are task-oriented. All of them depend on each other to survive.

The smart elements in our ecosystem have found ways to introduce new elements into the already balanced equation in order to benefit themselves and in turn benefit other elements in this system. This approach, whether good or bad, is always based on selfish reasons. Beauty, riches, distraction, and also survival, are all selfish reasons used by the smart elements to manipulate nature’s balanced equation.
The artist chose to show how using the tree does actually work in providing vital oxygen and water, contrary to the main image of Cornocarpus Erectus held by the residents of the region. The main use of the tree to the people of the region is in landscaping and the beautification of the city.

The work provided is to show that introducing foreign elements into our ecosystem, although beneficial, is not vital to the cause. Using indigenous elements has the same benefits, but doesn’t in turn threaten the ecosystem.


The work comprises a plastic bag that covers the top part of a tree and a human head. There is obvious fusion between the two elements; the human being produces carbon dioxide, the main gas necessary for the survival of the tree, while the tree produces oxygen, which in turn is the principal gas for the survival of the human being. The water is the common component between the two and constitutes their “intellectual” spine, meaning that these elements emphasise the true relationship between the human being as a labourer, rather than a master, on the one hand and the environment as a friend on the other. Both are at the same level, the human being is a product of this unity.

This project was part of Sharjah Biennial 8.