"I like to awaken the joy of thinking about possibilities, about what might be," says German artist Cornelia Konrads. How far will we go if we take the enigmatic path created in the park of the Chaumont-Sur-Loire estate?
How do artists reinvent gardens?
Journalistic transcript, survey magazine of the fine arts
Edenic castle of Chaumont-sur-Loire
The shy touch of a light bulb rotating over a pool makes your water lenses jerk on its surface and, as it passes, the spectator's skin. Stéphane Thidet's installation is one of the magical moments of this new "Season of Art" organized at the Chaumont-sur-Loire estate, where we will also discover the totem boats of the missing travellers of El Anatsui or the strange forest of hanging white trees woven by Janaina Mello Landini... For more than ten years, the director of the premises, Chantal Colleu-Dumond, has been celebrating the wedding of contemporary art and nature by inviting visual artists to take over the spaces of the castle and its gardens, off the beaten track of the art market. The event is being held in parallel with the International Garden Festival, which this year brings together landscape gardeners from all over the world on the theme of "Gardens of Paradise". That of bliss, fullness, innocence, delights and also temptation. D. B.
Vincent Mauger Discursive geometry, 2019
Stefano Boeri Bosco vertical,
The birth of landscape studies, particularly in the United States, and environmental history is an essential fact. Basically it is a whole internal change in the discipline that has made the humanities and social sciences aware of the question of the garden.
How can we define the impact that the ecological crisis has had on this awareness?
It forces us to review the relationship between the city and the countryside, between agriculture and urban space, by giving the plant world a central place. We must now think of them as two synonyms: as a forest, the city is an inhabited space, and as the city, the forest is a space of shared communication and intelligence. The most telling example is the vertical forest designed in the heart of Milan by Stefano Boeri. He had one hectare of forest planted.... on two towers. It is a very intelligent gesture, symbolically strong. Unlike many other architects, he has not given up on modernity: it is here that skyscrapers allow the forest to return. Making way for trees does not mean leaving the city to live in huts. There will be 10 billion of us on Earth in 2050, that's impossible!
The idea of bringing the plant back into the city is also very present in contemporary creation....
Some artists have been working on these subjects for decades, others are content to capture the latest trends without really knowing what to say: you have to make a difference. Nowadays, nature is returning to fashion, everyone is talking about anthropocene, ecology, but the staging of the plant element has been much more present than we imagine over the course of art history. We just didn't want to see him. A series of recent exhibitions have highlighted this link, such as "Infinite Garden".
In 2017, at the Pompidou-Metz Centre, which showed how gardens were omnipresent in contemporary art. How do you view the scientific discoveries around Plant Intelligence?
The paradigm shift we were talking about has allowed scientists to take an interest in the idea that plants think like animals. Although not yet universally accepted, something has undeniably changed over the past two decades. The plant embodies the possibility of the material to shape itself without the need for an external agent. By definition, it does not have real organs. In a tree, the same cell tissue can produce a branch, a leaf or a bark. Francis Flatté showed this modular structure: a part reproduces the whole. A tree is an individuality, but structured differently from us.
You talk about the ability of plants to create shapes... Are plants the first artists on the planet?
The plant created the world, it is the first creator, the first gardener. He is an artist who plays with his own body, the body artist of the planet in a way! Here is an idea that is difficult to accept: living things do not adapt to the environment but shape it, modify it, pollute and invigorate it. We should abandon the idea that there is a kind of natural world where everything is stable. Every living being profoundly transforms the environment around him, sometimes negatively. Plants are the spiritual artists of the world, like Kandinsky: they put spiritual (light) into matter (mineral). What is beautiful about the Cartier Foundation exhibition is that every time an artist, botanist or scientist tries to shape a tree, something spiritual comes out of it, in addition to an explosion of shapes and beauty. The tree is not only a specific form of life, but also the embodiment of a universal spirit capable of touching anyone. The vitality of the world itself...
Interview by D.B. and E LAt the Cartier Foundation, the tree reveals the forest
To place ourselves from the point of view of the tree and reconsider our view of these living beings, which also have sensory qualities. This is the invitation of the Cartier Foundation, which has brought together specialists, botanists and artists in the heart of a bewitching forest, between beliefs and reality, beauty, scientific knowledge and ecological awareness. Where we discover that these enigmatic giants who appeared 380 million years ago and who would be 3,040 billion on Earth are capable of bringing rain, protecting members of their own species, growing by leaving tiny gaps between their branches - a phenomenon discovered and called by Francis Hailé "the timidity of trees" - and awakening a field of endless emotions. D. B.
"We the Trees" from July 11 to November 10 - Cartier Foundation
Cesare Leonardi & Franca Stagi, with the large community of trees
How can we not feel empathy for the plant world when faced with the drawings of architects Cesare Leonardi & Franca Stagi? From the roots to the top, they described the trees with meticulousness and delicacy, omitting no detail, dwelling on the slightest leaf, on each flower or fruit, reproducing perfectly the projections of their shadows at different times of the day and the changes in their colours over the seasons. For years, alert, pencil in hand, they drew more than 200 species of trees, which they finally published in the early 1980s in an extraordinary book where each tree is reproduced at a scale of 1,1000th. A titanic study that has become the bible of dendrophiles and other nature lovers, now published for the first time in French by the Cartier Foundation. Their work also reminds us that the work of the botanist, since its origins, has been based on drawing, the only practice, according to specialist Francis Halle, that can identify the complexity of a tree and understand these strange living beings capable of modifying their environment, making the air breathable for everyone or becoming harmful if animal species attack them. D. B.
Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi
Manifesto, poster of the exhibition "L'Architectura degli Alberis" at the Istituto per i beni artistici culturali e naturali, Bologna, 1982
A forest but also a community of living people: trees appeared on Earth 380 million years ago while humanity is less than 3 million years old. Knowledge about them is only increasing and yet they are more than threatened.
Cesare Leonardi & Franca Stagi, Fracsinus Excelsior, L., 1983. Carefully described in all its majesty, this imposing common ash tree (or tall ash tree) arouses an infinite imagination: we think of the tree of life, our own family tree as well as that of all living species.