Eden Again: A Wastewater Garden Art Installation for ISEA 2012


Two Mirror Wastewater Art Gardens for Albuquerque and the S. Iraq Marshes

by Meridel Rubenstein, Catherine Harris, Stacey Neff, and Mark Nelson

with support from the McCune Foundation and the New Mexico Experimental Glass Workshop

An Installation in Progress with videowork SEPT 20-Dec 15, 2012


Installation View, Toilet

Eden Again outside installation view. photo by Robert Reck

Eden Again inside Installation view. photo by Robert Reck

The conceptual frameworks of nature/culture, wilderness/urban, and technology itself, have functioned to separate human kind from ecological processes of the planet upon which we live. EDEN AGAIN proposes to allow people to experience themselves as “living machines”- inseparable parts of the Machine Wilderness- using the waste from their bodies to create an Edenic, ecologically balanced, space. EDEN AGAIN intersects an Iraqi shrine garden and a New Mexico site.

This proposal is based on our ongoing project, Eden in Iraq, working with the NGO Nature Iraq in El-Chibaish, Southern Iraq to build a wastewater garden near the historic Garden of Eden and the first Iraqi National Park. Eden in Iraq mitigates a piece of the infrastructural destruction from the Iraq war and frames the experience in historical metaphoric imagery.

For ISEA 2012 in New Mexico, EDEN AGAIN, a public Water Closet sculpture sustaining reed species mimicking the Iraq marshland vegetation mulched with recycled glass has been created. An 8” wide runnel of blue shattered safety glass links the garden and the WC. A framed, handmade, private, translucent, recycled
glass Water Closet adjoins a circular, contained garden. Subsurface, the plants’ roots filter the effluent.

Eden Again is being hosted by the innovative Alvarado Urban Farm in central downtown Albuquerque.  Art viewers, grower’s market goers, US veteran farmers and local community members will all help grow the garden by using its system.  A combination of video and imagery from the Iraq site connects the New Mexico garden to its sister site in Iraq. The imagery is sandblasted on the WC glass walls and projected at night, during the winter months, onto a domed structure over the garden and in the WC.

EDEN AGAIN links two deserts and two continents. The mirror gardens share humanity across the divides of history, culture, and distance.

Click here for EDEN AGAIN Information Packet



Adam and Eve in the S. Iraq Marshes

Alvarado Urban Farm – Future Site of Eden Again

Alvardo Urban Farm – Future Site of Eden Again

Alvarado Farm Ground Breaking for Eden Again

Model – Alvardo Urban Farm by Efthimios Maniatis

Model – Water Closet with Wastewater Garden

Water closet wall design