Growing Persian Carpet Grass Gardens: Legacy of Time by Artist Martin Roth
The late contemporary artist Martin Roth created works of art that explore the temporal nature of organic structures and the material world. In a textile art project that began in 2012, Roth planted grass seeds and allowed them to grow through the fabric of Persian carpets. The work was exhibited at an Austrian castle in 2012.
Roth’s work was contemplative, gestural, and sometimes controversial. The Persian lawn carpet art project involved planting various grass seeds in expensive carpets from Persia and watering them. The artist drew from the idea that gardens and garden designs are a common theme in these Oriental rugs. Roth created a large exhibition within the castle.
Roth watered the garden from May through June. Eventually, large tufts of grass emerged from the carpets, fusing the lush, green lawn with the ancient design patterns of the rugs. Roth’s exhibit appealed to the senses on many levels. Visitors could experience the visual impact of the grasses growing through the Persian carpets and smell the dampness of the air. They could experience the smell of the lush, green grass and perhaps hear the sound, of the blades of grass, as they rustle in the breeze.
The art project evolved over time, and eventually, the smell of the fresh grass would be replaced rot and decay, suggesting that one should enjoy life’s experiences in the present. Eventually, the grass would decay, and the rugs and carpets would unravel and return to the soil. The rug art project has a message about the impermanence of all living things and man’s creations. The setting itself has a message about deterioration. The ruins of the castle, too, will eventually fall and crumble.
Life and Works of Artist Martin Roth
Artist Martin Roth was born in 1977 in Graz, Austria. He came to New York City to attend Hunter College, where he earned a master’s degree. He decided to stay in New York, and it was soon after that he began his work and exhibitions. Roth began his career as a student of painting, but he changed course to work organic materials and living organisms. Much of his life is a mystery. Sadly, in June of 2019, Roth passed away from unknown causes at the young age of 41.
What artist Martin Roth left of his legacy is a website filled with pictures of his installations and projects. It reads more like a diary accompanied by photos. The art works are labeled with phrases like, “I cultivated a piece of land nurtured by Tweets,” “I rescued laboratory mice so they could play Swan Lake,” or “I filmed a bird driving.” There is a picture of the project and nothing else, leaving the visitor to contemplate.
Some of Roth’s artwork was a bit easier to understand and powerful. In his last entry, he states, “I collected a plant from the garden of a mass shooter.” The accompanying photo is a sparse, but massive, square aquarium with a single desert plant in the center. The plant is from the garden of the Las Vegas strip shooter. The display was disorienting, as Roth intended.
Martin Roth’s Artistic Legacy
Just as the Persian carpets, the grass and Roth himself have passed from the earth, it reminds us of our duty as conservationists to do what we can to preserve the legacy that we still have left. A well-made finely woven rug can last for hundreds of years if carefully kept. However, there has been so much loss of the grand carpets produced by the master weavers. We have a representation of them in paintings, or perhaps some fragments, but many of the early carpets themselves have returned to earth.
The lesson that Roth’s Persian grassy carpets teach us, is to appreciate what we have while it is here. Persian carpets teach a lesson about the temporal nature of all life on earth. It is a reminder to enjoy life and all that it has to offer. Roth’s life and legacy is a poignant message to enjoy each day and the changes that come with it. If you would like to see some more examples of Martin Roth’s work, visit here, but be sure to come back and take a look at our collections of carpets that inspire and spark the imagination.