Welwitschia 2013
Solo Exhibition
May 17 — June 7, 2013
MNHN Siexpo, Luanda, Angola
 
The Welwitschia, like the Thinker or the
sable antelope (Palanca Negra), is a national symbol. In this installation, Iris Chocolate takes us back to our memory of it through the plant’s imaginary, its antiquity and stillness. This styl-
ized representation seems to portray in its long leaves, the long roots of the plant in its natural state. Memory is here represented as sustaining the identity of a people. (Suzana Sousa, curator)
An adult welwitschia consists of two leaves,
a stem base and its roots. Its two permanent leaves are unique in the plant kingdom. They are the original leaves from the time when the plant was a seedling, and they just continue
to grow and are never shed. They are leathery, broad, strap-shaped and they lie on the ground becoming torn to ribbons and tattered with age. The stem is low, woody, hollowed-out, obconical in shape and sturdy. The largest recorded speci-
men is in the Messum Mountains and is 1.8 m tall, and another on the Welwitschia Flats near the Swakop River is 1.2 m tall and 8.7 m wide. Carbon dating tells us that on average, welwit-
schias
are 500–600 years old, although some
of the larger specimens are thought to be 2,000 years old. Their estimated lifespan is 400 to 1,500 years. Growth occurs annually during
the summer months.