TAWAF – A Genealogy of a Tree
Tawaf (Arabic: طواف, Tawãf), in the Islamic faith, is the devotional act of circling counterclockwise around the Kaaba during the Hajj season.
L.E.FT’s Tawaf: A Genealogy of a Tree installation spatializes the cross section of a cedar tree trunk from the Shouf Biosphere, the largest cedar reserve in Lebanon, into a circular floor-map carpet. The interpretive tree "map," through its growth rings, unpacks the biblical, literary, popular, and political imaginaries of the Lebanese Cedar tree across its geological timeline.
Tawaf re-centers the meaning of the cedar tree away from its flattened, stencil cut representation as the national emblem of Lebanon—centered on the country’s flag, into the swirling space of its ecological history. What emerges is not an "immortal" symbol of the nation, but rather a complicated narrative situated at the intersection of geological history, the colonial environmental imaginary, and climate change.
Through circling the installation, the visitor will begin to recognize the necessity of untangling the traces of the complex colonial and nationalist narratives underlying the ills inflicted on the Middle East region—before all else on its environment. Only then can one bolster the ecology of the Cedar tree and reinvent its meaning.