Created for Desert X AlUla 2022 in Saudi Arabia, Under the Same Sun examines the tangled web between the sun, its material reality, and the energy, images, and forms that it produces. This multimedia installation developed by Canadian artist Stephanie Deumer features a greenhouse of native plants submerged in an underground cavernous space.
As part of the artist’s continued exploration of simulacra and immersive environments, this work brings to life the spectacle of biological reproduction through technological and visual means. Projected live-feed footage of the aboveground landscape bathes the greenhouse with light, allowing the plants to photosynthesize and grow.
The video projection and installation as a whole is powered by solar panels, which also serve as the roof to the sunken room. Taking the shape of a large puddle of water, the solar cells sit flush with the desert ground, mirage-like in appearance, and hinting at the sanctuary below.
The exposed gabion walls are filled with local stone, and together with the adobe bench and steel beams, the overall design retains a barebones quality that is faithful to its construction and function. The power unit is also visible in the space, foregrounding the beating heart of the solar energy system.
While existing as a refuge for fragile plant life, the structure also provides a cool respite for visitors walking through the desert landscape to view the exhibition.