Isle of Enchantment
6,700 live plants, 650 kg of Chinese ink, Eucalyptus beams
Project for BHasia, Cambio Cultural
Belo Horizonte, Brazil

October 15 - April, 2013

Upon arriving at Santa Lucia Lake in Belo Horizonte, one sees a floating island in the center of the lake. From a distance, it has the appearance of an ink drawing or a silhouette of a classical Chinese garden. The island garden consists of one pagoda and an abundance of lush plants, all painted completely black with Chinese ink in contrast to the rest of the environment. Visitors can access the island via pedal boat and navigate the waterways within the island. The garden has an outwardly Chinese style but, upon closer inspection, one sees that the plants are indigenous and the pavilion is made with Brazilian materials, using local building techniques. The fully black garden's plants and trees are alive and will continue to grow during the exhibition period. An evolution will happen as green shoots come out and flowers bloom, overtaking the black and changing the look of the garden daily.

Situated in a valley between a large favela on one side and middle-upper class condominiums on the other, the island and its installation were embraced by both communities, bringing people together though an artwork that is a testament to the perseverance of life. It creates an enchanted world where things are not what they first appear to be and visitors can have an experiential aesthetic adventure through navigating the island. The Isle of Enchantment speaks to the displacement and interpretation of culture, the appropriation of materials, and is also an exercise in creating new legends and history. 

© 2019 Jennifer Wen Ma

Jennifer Wen Ma

Littlemeat Productions

New York, NY

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