The Big Dig

Show project on map

The garden is where many childhood fantasies are born, where Alice chased the rabbit down the hole, where worlds – both imaginary and real – collide.

Akin to this garden vision, there is an age-old notion in the Western Hemisphere that if you dig and dig and dig – and then dig some more – you may just end up in China. The Big Dig installation at the 2011 Xi’an International Garden Show in China represents the other side of this imagined hole and brings this childhood dream to life.


The area around the hole is covered by an artificial grass carpet, which has been sucked down into the ground. Its end is not visible but must surely lead to the West. The hole is circumscribed by a glass railing, which prevents the Chinese from accidental international travel. This glass serves as a thin barrier between reality and fiction. The artificial materialization of The Big Dig is linked to the idea of a „real fake.“ Artificial grass covers the hole, the lawn, and the bench, creating a monolithic visual appearance. Sounds from the other side of the world are broadcast from the depths of the hole: cows grazing in Argentina, commuters in New York City, sounds from the streets of Berlin – soundtracks of the mysterious life on the other side. Gardens have long been established as retreats from reality and at the edge of this hole, these soundtracks inspire visitors‘ imagination, transporting them to the other side of the world.


On Chinese playgrounds, the opposite notion is present: Chinese children dig and dig and dig their way to the Americas. The Big Dig installation brings this myth to life. In the Xi’an garden, visitors are presented with the impossible and invited to indulge joyfully in the illusion.

Similar projects