PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Extended Temporality

All photographs provided by atelier eem.  Copyright atelier eem
There are garden shows and there are garden shows.  The Metis Garden Festival is one of those I cannot overlook.  The winning entry for 2012, Histoire sans fin ou Le bois dans tous ses etats (Endless Story or The Woods In All Conditions)  by atelier eem is one of my favorites.  Marc Blume gratefully responded to some of my questions.
PO:  Why the Metis competition?
MB:  The Metis International Festival is a really well known competition, even in Europe.  We were really curious about this festival situated so far away from the next big city, and which has brought (in 13 years of existence) so many international landscapers and artists with such great projects to this place.
Now, after being there, we understand what brings visitors and participants to make thousands of kilometers to come.  For the encounter between the historical gardens and the contemporary art and landscape festival in the amazing landscape of Gaspesie is really unique.
PO:  What was the inspiration for your project?
MB:  We were inspired by conversations on our experiences of forests, which are related to our different origins.  From the well-organized Swiss and German forest exploitations to the Italian vegetal ruins or the burned down Portuguese trees, we noticed that we all have visions marked by the human presence in the woods.

We felt that the situation of facing a human trace in a woodland has the ability to gather people around thoughts about their own marks and existence in an extended temporality.

Like questionings about some tree lives that might have watched the rise and fall of civilizations for example..

By setting up steps of vegetal decompositions and taking part as “time speeders” in this delicate process, we want to propose a mediation on the apprehension of the garden temporality and furthermore on the relation between human beings, time and “nature.”

PO:  Is the lack of specific client or program freeing?  Does it allow you to think “outside the box” or follow up on ideas that cannot be realized in a project for a clent?
MB:  There are somehow always restrictions in the constructing of a site, a landscape or a garden, even if it is not directed by a client’s demands or a program.
At the same time, we always try to leave spaces for imagination in any kind of work, even if it responds to a program and ends up by being realized.  (Which obviously also happened to this garden… “You have seen us lifting the logs!!”)

PO:  Please tell us something about your firm.
MB:  atelier eem was created in 2009 in Paris and was from the encounter of different backgrounds – from landscape to architecture and design – nourished by different European cultures.

It is composed of Marc Blume, Francesca Liggieri, Estelle Nicod and frequent co-workers like Heloise Blanzat who joins in for this competition.

Aware of the various aspects that motivate the desire to modify and inhabit environment, we aspire to link art, utopia and reality.  Our propositions always lay on the balance and the relation between a territory, its meaning at different scales (house, garden, neighborhood, landscape and so on…) and its inhabitants.  Respect and value of an environment is to our eyes the primary condition to any modification.

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