Black Palm

Douglas White

Cidade Matarazzo

Cidade Matarazzo

In 1876, the Englishman Henry Wickham, known as the “plant hunter”, returned from a voyage to Brazil with the seeds to a species of rubber-bearing tree. The latex from rubber trees has been used in the Amazon since pre-Columbian times. However, it was only after Wickham’s return to Kew Gardens that the material went into industrial production in Europe and, later, worldwide. Today, discarded rubber is a major environmental problem. The central idea of Black Palm is that rubber is a human creation that keeps coming back to haunt us. The work celebrates the appearance of a whole new species of rubber tree, an oily black ghost. The installation was made using blown-out tires collected from São Paulo’s streets and roads. The tires burst into frazzled strips, revealing the aggressive steel belts used to shape them. The artist did not interfere with the material; the tires were all used exactly as they were found on the roadside. In his work, Douglas White provokes the meaning and power that comes from everyday destruction and explores the aesthetics and possible narratives that surround these found objects, such as lightning-felled trees, blown-out tires, vandalised recycling bins and even dead cacti.

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  • Title: Black Palm
  • Creator: Douglas White
  • Date: 2014/2014
  • Provenance: Images © Ding Musa; courtesy the artist
  • Type: installation
  • Rights: Images © Ding Musa

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