Benthic Zone/ Zanichellia, Chara, and Myriophyllum
clay and metal, variable dimensions (ou ø50cm x 290 cm / ø30cm x 250 cm / ø50cm x 270 cm), 2019
photos credits © Julien Gremaud / La Becque
Benthic Zone retraces the uncanny underwater world of the living in the freshwater of Swiss lakes.
From the Latin word Benthos, which defines the biogeographic zone of a lake, sea or ocean from the surface until the bottom, passing by the littoral and supralittoral regions of the shore.
What triggered Marie Griesmar’s interest into Jarman’s work is how he created a garden that materialised a political expression by means of botany. The flowers, weeds, and bushes of his Dungeness garden formed an aesthetic and intellectual ecosystem, where each element translated a different type of emotion and thought. What’s more the surrounding landscape—the dry and wind-beaten coast of Kent—played a huge role in defining the shape and essence of his garden. For Modern Nature, Griesmar worked on a new series of sculptures whose shapes are inspired by local aquatic species. Over the last few years, Griesmar has been developing sculptures forming artificial reefs in order to create interactions with underwater fauna and flora. She spent half a year regularly diving in the Lake Geneva in order to map and make drawings of the different plants, creating a local taxonomy of the lake’s aquatic bed. Particularly interested in scientific and naturalistic writings of the 18th century, including Ernst Haeckel, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Alexander von Humboldt, she looked at the representation of historical botanical models and decided to shape her sculptures based on microscopic details of the local algae she observed. With earthy tones, the sculptures are set against the blue-green natural backdrop, creating a strong contrast. During the first stage of the project, these totem-like structures are positioned in-between the lake and the garden, and will be completed with a series of similar structures that will be installed underwater after the winter, during a second project phase in collaboration with EPFL’s architecture lab, ALICE (led by Dieter Dietz and Daniel Zamarbide).
text by the curator, Elise Lammer, and director of la Becque, Luc Meier