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Archaeology of Garden Imagination

Garden and Landscape Symposium, Spring 2006

Cosponsored by The Huntington and Dumbarton Oaks

Many gardens call upon their visitors' imaginations, upon their capacity to make sense of their experience and circumstances in the place in which they are. These flights of imagination certainly depend on the mood of the person in the garden as well as on the setting, its design, iconography, and ecology, but they also depend on his or her cultural expectations with respect to this garden or to gardens of the same kind: the cultural imagination.

We will explore the ways in which gardens may have contributed to the role, form and embodiment of cultural imagination in a few different historical cultures. The Ottoman world and Persia will invite a discussion of mystical imagination, renaissance Rome and modern Andalusia the role of imagination in the construction of garden cultures turned towards the evocation of the past. We shall explore dramatic dimensions of garden imagination in baroque Spain and nineteenth-century Russia. The role of garden imagination in the pursuit of cultural change will be studied in modern Japan and Israel. And four presentations on Chinese culture will present the role of nostalgia, and the dynamics of passion and death in Chinese garden imagination.

This symposium will provide a unique opportunity for exploring the interlacing of the creation and reception of gardens, and its role in the larger dynamics of world cultures.