Mohnfeld, 2007

Installation view: Installation related Poppy Field, DOCUMENTA 12, Kassel, Germany, 2007
Photo: Julia Fuchs

Field of Papaver rhoeas and Papaver somniferum, loudspeakers, revolutionary songs (performed by LE ZBOR and RAWA)
Overall dimensions variable
Co-produced by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary on the occasion of documenta 12

For documenta 12, Sanja Iveković transformed the Friedrichsplatz in front of the Fridericianum in Kassel into a poppy field. Both the square and the poppy have a changing historical significance and represent a multitude of meanings. In the 18th century, the Friedrichsplatz became one of the largest inner city squares in Germany. Already in the late nineteenth century, but particularly during the time of National Socialism, the square was used for military exercises, parades and rallies. The poppy opens up various historical and cultural references. In the English-speaking world, the red poppy has become symbolic of the memory of soldiers killed in the war, while in countries with a communist past it has been “adopted” to represent the spirit of resistance and revolution.

By sowing seeds of the opium poppy (the seeds consist of 90% “red poppies” and 10% “opium poppies”), Iveković contextualizes the issue of opium poppy cultivation for drug purposes. Afghanistan has become the producer of 92% of the world’s opium supply and Afghan women are often direct victims of atrocities resulting from the illicit drug trade. As in several of her public art works, for this project Sanja Iveković collaborated with feminist/activist organizations, in this case with Lezbor from Zagreb, Croatia, and with RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. The artist collected recordings of Afghan and Croatian women’s choirs singing revolutionary songs, which were projected via loudspeakers in Friedrichsplatz twice daily.

*1949 in Zagreb, Croatia | Living and working in Zagreb, Croatia