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Anna Lucas, Kaff Mariam, 2007. Installation view at FACT.

Kaff Mariam (2007)

Kaff Mariam translates as Hand of Mary, and can be found in the deserts of the Middle East. It is an ancient plant - also known as the Rose of Jericho - whose dry bud can survive many years, until enough rain falls and it blooms again. A Creole belief is that it also brings new life when given water on a Tuesday or Friday and accompanied by a prayer.

Lucas' search for the plant growing wild leads her through the Holy Land from the Palestinian West Bank, into Israel and finally the Sinai desert in Egypt, accompanied by a Bedouin goat herder. The opening scene takes us on a slow descent by cable car from the site of the last temptation of Christ, into Jericho, the oldest and lowest city in the world, on the shores of the rapidly shrinking Dead Sea. The artist is hosted with cups of tea in every location from a mechanics yard and a sweet shop to the sandy deserts of Sinai.

This incredible journey is directed by various word of mouth accounts of where the Kaff Mariam can be found, and uncovers the elusive plant's extraordinary ability to track climate change and make the land fertile.