Lee Mingwei, The Moving Garden, 2009/2014, mixed media interactive installation of granite, fresh flowers seen in situ at Lee Mingwei and His Relations, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2014
Credit: Yoshitsugu Fuminari, courtesy of Mori Art Museum

The thought of 106,000 gerberas and the real life practice of the Pay It Forward principle sounds as though it has the potential to be overwhelmingly basic in the wrong hands, but under the supervision of New York-based artist Lee Mingwei, it instead becomes something entirely transcendent. 

Flowers and fellowship are the formative elements of Mingwei’s work The Moving Garden, at the core of which is a forty-five-foot-long granite table bisected by a channel filled every day with fresh cut flowers. The work is an interactive installation that invites viewers to take a flower on leaving the site provided they follow the artist’s instructions: 

“First, to make a detour from their intended route when leaving the museum for their next destination; second, along this detour, to give the flower to a stranger who they feel would benefit from this unexpected act of generosity.”
The artist and his work will appear at Melbourne’s NGV from October 15 as part of a three month installation exploring trust, intimacy and self-awareness amongst visitors and unassuming Melburnians alike. The participatory work was inspired in part by a reading of Lewis Hyde’s 1983 mediation on the art and commerce of gifting, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property. Mingwei’s work has been the subject of previous international solo exhibitions since the late 1990s, including shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Lee Mingwei: The Moving Garden will be on display at the NGV from October 15 2016 until January 29, 2017

Tile and cover: Taipei Fine Arts Museum