Japanese artist Azuma Makoto explores the lifecycle of flowers with two incredible botanical sculptures exhibited at the Oi Futuro museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The symbolic work evokes the Buddhist value of contemplating life and death. Viewers are encouraged to reflect on the transience of all living things, as the colorful flowers slowly decay over time. Makoto believes that “we learn from an early age to avoid seeing, touching and feeling the death and decomposition of any living being.” As such, his art installations present a rare opportunity to experience it all.
The first piece in the project, entitled Gaibu-Outside, is composed of neatly cut flowers situated outside the museum. Initially, the installation looks like a gigantic woven rug, with each flower carefully positioned to overlap with those before it. As the viewer comes closer, they can inspect the details of Makoto’s “reverse agriculture.”
The second half of the project, entitled Naibu-Inside, follows the same concept, but presents it in a different way. Colorful flowers are gathered in a large glass cube in the center of the indoor exhibition space. Visitors are able to approach the cube and examine the beauty of decaying flowers up close. As the flowers slowly waste away, the colors fade and the petals and leaves wilt into dust.
Makoto’s floral experiments even extend beyond earth’s atmosphere. In August 2017, he sent bouquets of flowers into space to document what happened to them. He explains that the purpose was to record the “ever-changing landscape of the flowers, the changes in lighting and contrast from the direct rays from the sun, the ways in the which the flowers will react in an environment of -60°C, and the way in which they will scatter and fall back to the ground.”