Wendy Babcox; Every Olive Tree in the Garden of Gethsemane #9.
Every Olive Tree in the Garden of Gethsemane is a suite of photogravure images of each of the twenty-three olive trees in the garden. Situated at the foot of the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane is known to many as the site where Jesus prayed the night before his crucifixion. The oldest tree has been carbon-dated to 1092, a date almost coincidental with the first of the Crusades. The perseverance of the olive trees in Gethsemane traces a line through the centuries in concert with the history of persistent efforts by geopolitical powers to exert influence in the Middle East, particularly in Jerusalem. The oldest trees are a living and symbolic link to this distant past, while the younger saplings bridge the present moment with an unknowable future.
Wendy Babcox; Gethsemane #22.
Wendy Babcox; Gethsemane #8.
Wendy Babcox; Gethsemane #16.
From the garden, the olive trees face the Old City of Jerusalem, which occupies less than one square kilometer. This most contested piece of land has been the site of territorial disputes across the centuries. The photogravure (photographic etching) process bears a specific reference to the ways in which the trees appear to be etched or marked by the pain of these conflicts. Their gnarled trunks materialize from an emptied background and appear to be written with the indexical record of all they have witnessed. Like a photograph, they appear to have recorded the events that unfolded within their view. The victorious and the vanquished recede into history and yet the olive trees persist, uniting the past and the present moment.
Wendy Babcox is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Tampa, Florida where she is an associate professor in the School of Art and Art History in Photographic Practices and related media at the University of South Florida.
Her practice embraces a wide array of media and methodologies, and often draws on lens-based media and its many hybrid forms including photography, video, installation, performance, collaborative ventures, and sculptural interventions. A current and former member of several women’s art collectives, Babcox is interested in the power of the unruly woman to perform creative transgressions.
Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including venues in Peru, New Zealand, Russia, Jerusalem, and Mexico, among other places. She has completed two large-scale public artworks, one of which is a permanent installation at the Tampa International Airport. Individual projects have been featured at the Orlando Museum of Art, The Front in New Orleans, the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, and at the Transmodern Age Festival in Baltimore.