Garden of Desire (2023)

Bahar Behbahani

Garden of Desire
Galvanised steel, various plants, knotted yarn, soil, water, wick, handmade cotton paper embedded with seeds, archival documents on Xerox, vellum, cotton paper and etchings on paper
Dimensions variable
Credits: Dieu Donné, New York (handmade paper); Maryam Farzaneh and Sharjah Agriculture and Parks department (Landscape Consultants)
Produced by Sharjah Art Foundation

From ‘Declassified’, 2022
Supported by the Alpert Visiting Artist Fellowship, School of Art, Syracuse University Courtesy of the artist

Margaret and Donald
Etchings on paper; 63.5 x 57 cm

TPAJAX Page 30
Etchings and letterpress on paper; 63.5 x 57 cm

Black Dahlia
Etchings on paper; 63.5 x 57 cm

Cutting Paper
Etchings and letterpress on paper; 63.5 x 57 cm

Shiraz 1918 (Minor Operations)
Etchings on paper; 57 x 63.5 cm

Mossadeq’s House
Etchings on paper; 63.5 x 57 cm


Bahar Behbahani’s research-based practice interweaves archival materials, cartography, horticultural history and contemporary context to critique imperial structures of knowledge and power. Garden
of Desire (2023) is a sculptural installation inspired by the design of the royal Fin Garden, one of the oldest extant gardens in Iran. The artist’s miniature Persian garden reflects on the site’s various paradoxes of beauty,
hospitality and its auxiliary purpose for diplomatic and imperialistic negotiations. The project draws upon the writings of Donald Wilber, a Persian architecture scholar later revealed to be the CIA operative behind the 1953 coup to overthrow the democratically elected Iranian government. An accompanying
set of six etchings mediates the artist’s archival research to reclaim the heavily redact narratives in the historical construction of the Iranian landscape.