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Impossible Gardens

A garden is planted via mysterious means as participants use seed paper cards to perform a magic illusion in their own hands without knowing how they accomplish a seemingly impossible feat.


In a guided interaction, the group performs a magic illusion in their own hands, using the seed paper cards (instead of traditional playing cards). At the onset, each person chooses a seed card that is unique to them. Following a set of verbal instructions, the group then shuffles the cards together and makes decisions to eliminate some, tossing them into the air one by one, seed cards fluttering down to the ground. In a final moment of magic, from the remaining cards, each person is able to magically find their originally chosen seed paper card without knowing how they accomplished this incredible feat...! Each person takes their unique, chosen seed paper home as a remembrance of the experience, and also receives a small pot of soil in which to plant these seeds. The participants also plant fallen seed papers in the community plot, and This Impossible Garden can now begin to take root. Participants join together to care for this evolving communal garden, with the amazing nature of seeds as the focus, a beautiful reminder of how seeds connect us. An impossible garden, made possible…

Premiere: MANA Contemporary, 2017

Awards: DCASE Grant 2017

Performances: Neighborspace Community Gardens in underserved areas in Chicago, summer 2017. With support from DCASE.

This video depicts a similar effect, commissioned by the Birmingham Museum of Art, performed with custom-scented playing cards.


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