"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 transcription, fine arts investigation magazine
Les noms de ces jardins sont écrits en italique, de même que les titres des œuvres d'art. Normal : ils ont poussé dans le meilleur sol, composé d'artistes plasticiens, de scientifiques et d'architectes paysagistes conscients que les espaces verts révèlent aujourd'hui la politique, la philosophie et l'urgence de vivre en bonne harmonie avec la nature.
"It's the smallest part of the world and then it's the whole world." Thus, Michel Foucault defined the garden in 1967. As the world changes, so does the garden. It has long been the place of the domination of nature, man trying to make this foolish woman adopt reason. The one we thought was insane, anyway. But nature, subject to this yoke that leads it to annihilation, rebelled. It has also proved, according to the most recent studies in biology, to be much more intelligent and sensitive than previously thought. Contemporary gardens reflect these new challenges: in this geological era of the Anthropocene, which characterizes an Earth violently damaged by Homo (so-called) sapiens, landscape gardeners and plastic artists are taking up these questions. According to Emma Lavigne, curator of the exhibition "Infinite Garden" at the Centre Pompidou-Metz in 2017, "modernity has taken the sensitivity of the garden out of its field, preferring the rationality and hygiene of the green space. That is why today's artists are taking it with great license. For them, it becomes a place of obsession, grafts and hybridization, of singularity and resistance, a space where all kinds of madness are possible. Beaux-Arts investigated the gardens of tomorrow: will they be the autonomous landscapes of a world without man, or the objects of a citizen awareness? In the eyes of Guy Tortosa, an exhibition curator who is passionate about this issue, the garden adds in any case "a dimension to the art of living together that any policy should promote and cultivate. It is a res publica that integrates the non-human living. And like all public things, it is also a work in progress, strictly speaking infinite." E. L.
The political garden, open to flows and winds
Leave the field open to nature to consider an unconfined garden, designed on a global scale, made up of interbreeding and mutations, favourable to the circulation of species, ideas and people... Making botany and politics rhyme, the plastic artists have made the garden the domain of their deepest aspirations. In direct contact with contemporary, ecological, economic and social tragedies, the green space becomes the metaphor of a society that must question itself if it wants to look to the future.
Gilles Clément, supporter of the Third Landscape
It's the story of the dodos and the turkeys. One of these fables that Gilles Clément loves to prove that nature is in perpetual motion. "When the dodos disappeared, he says, "an endemic plant in Madagascar was threatened with extinction. Its seeds matured in the stomachs of these strange birds, which softened them and helped them to germinate. So someone had the idea of planting turkeys instead. And it worked.... " Proof that no nature is immutable, but is the child of a thousand mutations, of mad migrations, heir to the flows and winds. Long before he became the king of landscape architects, Gilles Clément took his political side. Since the 1970s, he has put into practice the notion of the Third Landscape, a land that welcomes all refugee seeds sown by the winds. Every garden is born "of a mixing: beings meet each other, naturally (thanks to the wind), and especially through man, who carries them involuntarily. Certainly, this meeting can jeopardize diversity. One plant sometimes takes the place of another. But I want to show that there is something positive about this notion." To transmit his knowledge, he created the School of the Planetary Garden, with two branches, in Viry-Châtillon (Essonne) and Saint Pierre (Reunion Island), in order to raise awareness in a nourishing humus. For this citizen of the world, "the term "gardening" is far too literal. Rather, it is about developing a way of seeing the world. We garden because we hope. The garden is man's only place of encounter with nature where dream and utopia are allowed. E. L.
Gilles Clément Jardin du Tiers-Paysage, 2009. The Third Landscape Garden, designed here for the Saint-Nazaire maritime base, has been designed as a "place of resistance" where the ecological diversity of the estuary can flourish in a natural way.
Gilles Clément, Jardin des Méditerranées, 1989. In the wonderful world of Gilles Clément, here in the heart of the Rayol estate, facing the islands of Hyères (Var), the stroller transforms himself into a true botanist explorer.
Lois Weinberger cultivates weed host land
What is Beyond Plants is at One with Them, 1997.
Breaking the codes of landscape design, the artist has used the "weeds" as a model, those undesirable weeds that grow freely, despite everything, in spaces uncontrolled by man. Here at Documenta 10 in Kassel, Germany, with species from southern Europe.
"The way a society treats its plants is a reflection of itself.” Paraphrasing Gandhi ("A people's degree of civilization is recognized by the way they treat their animals."). Austrian artist Lois Weinberger has developed her practice around spontaneous vegetation, the one that grows uncontrolled on sidewalks, roadsides, in inhabited or abandoned areas, landfills, wastelands... Braving the harsh conditions of their environment, these ruderal plants have a bad reputation: they are intruders who inspire fear and rejection, and have no place in a domesticated nature. They symbolize the marginalized, the undesirable and the forgotten; the savage opposed to the cultivated. Eminently metaphorical, Weinberger's work makes the plant society a mirror of that of individuals, questioning the processes of hybridization, colonization, migration and identity issues. Already in 1997, for the Documenta in Kassel, he planted neophyte species from southern and south-eastern Europe on 100 meters of railway track, specifying that "treating what is foreign, the notion of territory and nationalism,[was] implicit in[are] work". Since then, he has been sowing his "bad" seeds wherever he wants, not hesitating to break the asphalt that chokes them or protect them in his Steel Wild Cube (like last fall at the Frac Franche-Comté), a space where wild vegetation can grow freely without fear of repeated attacks from those who claim to have a green thumb. D. B.
No more daydreaming or even walking in Jean-Jacques Rousseau Park
The superb Jean-Jacques Rousseau Park in Ermenonville, where the philosopher stayed during the last six weeks of his life, is now closed to the public. What happened? What happened? A radical change in the position of the Department of Oise, owner of this wonderful 18th century garden with factories. For six years, its director, Corinne Charpentier, had made it a place of life and creative experiences, illuminating this marvel of Enlightenment with a contemporary perspective. It would seem that the departmental supervision wants a change of course. Businessman Antoine Haswani, who recently acquired the adjacent castle, announced to the press that he wanted to transform it into a "magic forest", with sounds and lights staged by the famous Cirque du soleil. This announcement made before any call for tenders was issued scandalized the visual arts and choreography community, which had appropriated the site. Creation or leisure, idea laboratory or theme park? Everything will depend on the Department's conception of the social contract. In the meantime, due to a lack of clear perspectives, the park has closed its doors. E. L.