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This work was developed as part of our artist residency in Pollen,
located in Monflanquin, initially scheduled from February 15th to May
15th, 2020, and thus during the lockdown. These two conditions
overlapped and created together a strange and uncertain space-time,
in terms of production, restitution and in the very direction of our
research. The residency continued remotely in our lockdown places,
and our common point of reference and departure, the space surrounding
Pollen from which we wanted to ponder on territory, landscape and garden
notions, by becoming inaccessible, ended up extended to the vast spaces
of internet and memories. Through their website, we visited gardening
and DIY stores, took images, objects, patterns, and walked through
gardens and landscapes as much in through our personal photographic
archives as through articles, online magazines, books or video games.
These "journey" took place in the absence of the body, parks and gardens
being closed and our movements limited. As the only accessible space,
the supermarket also becomes one of our resources, a place in which we
project the walking experience.
Gardens and landscapes deserve [...] to be considered in their "in situ" and "in visu" aspects - precisely because they are meant to be lived and seen. Landscaping and gardening devices must thus count with a landscape or a garden (objects), a "landscape" or a "garden" (pictured); but also with designers with multiple and tiered know-how (landscaper, gardener, architect, artist, contractor...) who act on the "seen" as well as on the "experienced"; but also with a spectator (focusing on the category of "seeing") or a walker (focusing on the sensitive categories of which "seeing" is only one modality) who sees and experiences landscapes and gardens. 1
How can we reflect the experience of moving around in a garden without being present? During a visit, the first image we often have is a global one: the plan that is given to us at the entrance. This overview synthesizes the different elements that make up the garden and gives the main informations. It is a first visit in itself, or a pre-visit. This is the way the "French gardens" are considered, which were created on huge areas with a remodeled and flattened ground all around the houses. 2 This flatness can be explained by their very origin, a drawing showing the embroidery made on the rich fabrics and laces. 3 The French gardens of the modern period (Art Deco) tended to be two and a half dimensions rather than real spatial compositions, [...] compositions that are approached through vision rather than experience, [...] made in a single moment. 4 Thus applies the first view of our "Web garden".
Kaiyûshiki type garden, or stroll garden, is completely differently thought out: it is made in such a way that it cannot be embraced from anywhere at a single glance. [...] The stroll garden is not a painting in which all the details can be captured simultaneously; it is like a book whose pages must be turned successively. 5 The movement of the walkers is thought of as the constituent element. Landscapes follow one another, appearing and disappearing in the course of the progression. By taking up the idea of pages, we have multiplied the points of view, thus isolating each element when you click on it. Another feature of the stroll garden is its evocative power. [...] The gardeners did not try to reproduce the sites faithfully; they reduced the number of elements and schematized the landscape. 6 Our research (photomontages and drawings) has an ambiguous status here. They are thought of both as autonomous sculptures and as the landscapes they represent.
1 Séminaires Paysage et Jardin : Un Autre Regard Sophie Houdart
2 Les plus beaux jardins de France
4 French Visions in the Modern Garden. Dorothée Imbert, quoted in Reinventing garden sculpture at the 1925 Paris exhibition of decorative arts Louis Gevart
5 Les jardins japonais : principes d'aménagement et évolution historique François Berthier
Can we express identities throughout a garden?
During the lockdown, I discovered the magazine "Les jardins du retour" published by Les Carnets de l'exotisme and the term "Anglo-Chinese garden" (the French name of the English landscape garden) . By its name it immediately evokes me an interbreeding which I could relate to and I ask myself: is it a mixed-race garden? In their 1750 collection, John and William Halfpenny propose kiosk projects from all origins to English owners. The Cahiers from Le Rouge, in 1775, indicate how to structure a garden around an architectural setting. The Traité de la composition et de l'ornement des jardins , published by Audot, publisher of Le Bon jardinier , proposes "in more than six hundred figures, plans of gardens, follies for their decoration and machines to push up the water". Its success was such that in 1839, it was in its fifth edition. The trend of the Anglo-Chinese gardens was born, and takes this name after Le Rouge, engineer and geographer of the King, publisher of many engravings books, had published in 1774 the twenty-one volumes of the Jardins anglo-chinois à la mode. 1 Architecture in Anglo-Chinese gardens would thus be inspired by monuments of all origins? In a letter addressed in 1754 to her mother, Sophie-Dorothée of Prussia, Queen Ulrika of Sweden, describes the Chinese pavilion that the King gave her for her thirty-fourth birthday. Her son, dressed in Mandarin, reads a poem and hands her the keys to the pavilion. She then enters the pavilion to discover panels decorated with pagodas, birds and vases. The sofas are covered with Indian fabrics and the furniture is made of Japanese lacquer. 2 Chinese, for Japanese or even Indian, the term would thus rather refer to the "Easterner". Could we see here an origin to the fact that the entire East Asian population in Europe is perceived as "Chinese"? Similarly, what is the real interest of the Other through the creation of gardens and pavilions that look like Chinese pagodas or Turkish kiosks, of Eastern inspiration (from the south of the Mediterranean basin to the Far East), when at the same time Buddha is presented as the Antichrist, the one who will come before the end of the world, disguised as Christ, to fill the earth with horrors and heresy. 3 It is particularly interesting to note that Buddhism has always been a kind of mirror in which Europeans have observed themselves pretending to believe that they were looking at a distant Asian religion. This instrumentalization of Buddhism, which usefully highlights the philosophical and theological quarrels or the social issues and observations of Europeans, is therefore above all their most secret anxieties expression. 4 This mirror metaphor also seems to be relevant regarding the orientalization of gardens: withdrawing "to The China" [here The China refers to the Chinese pavilion] for a few hours per day to taste spices and tea enable to grant oneself the most precious of goods: the freedom to be oneself, 5 and I do not find in this European-centric interest the idea of interbreeding that interests me. It is true that we come to each experience with our own limitations and see only what we are prepared for. 6
Isamu Noguchi, for the Unesco garden in Paris, invents a new space adapted to modern architecture, which is at the same time different from the Japanese garden and from monumental sculpture. But his work faced with hostile reception, as experts of traditional Japanese culture did not find it authentic, and modernist art critics reproached it for not being original. 7 For example, Pierre Montal criticizes the "false archaism" and "false exoticism" of the elements shaped by Noguchi in comparison with natural Japanese stones. John Ely Burchard follows the same line of criticism: "The older message that Japan so often gives us, that natural forms are admirable, even when stylized and artificially manipulated to provide an abstract summary, appears here, but less convincingly and with less purity than in more traditional Japanese works, especially those of centuries ago." 8 This desire to have authentically Japanese work stems from UNESCO's own policy. The presence of an Eastern culture - in fact non-Western - is necessary to avoid the total domination of Western arts and artists in the construction site. 9 Critics completely disregard the identity of the artist and accentuate his "Eastern" origin. In 1933, when the artist proposed Monument to the plough , an environmental project that he imagined in the Middle West meadows, he encountered two major obstacles: the administration refusal, only possible recourse for creating such a vast work at the time, and the racial criterion in the reception, especially when it was a question of creating a monument on such a symbolic land. 10 Art critic Henry McBride wrote in his review of Noguchi's exhibition at the Marie Harriman Galleries: "I hate to apply the word "wily" to anyone I so thoroughly like and respect as I do Mr. Noguchi, yet what other word can you apply to a semioriental sculptor who proposes to build in the U.S. the following gigantic monuments. » 11 Isamu Noguchi's example is important to me as the first (or one of the first) international artistic figure from a "Far East/West" mix and I see in his garden for UNESCO an attempt to express our dual identities.
In my case, what would a "Franco-Japanese garden" look like?
1 Des paravents de laque aux jardins anglo-chinois : l'architecture exotique dans les parcs et jardins Nadine Beauthéac, Les Jardins du retour, ed. Les Carnets de l'exotisme, p. 39
2. Ibid, p. 33
3 Une figure paradoxale du péril jaune : le Bouddha Muriel Détrie, Orients Extrèmes, ed. Les Carnets de l'exotisme, p.73
4Free extracts of La rencontre du bouddhisme et de l'Occident Frédéric Lenoir
5 Des paravents de laque aux jardins anglo-chinois : l'architecture exotique dans les parcs et jardins Nadine Beauthéac, les Jardins du retour, ed. Les Carnets de l'exotisme, p. 33
6 Isamu Noguchi quoted in La création-découverte dans l'art et dans la science. Jacques Mandelbrojt
7 Japanese Garden in France: Exoticism, Adaptation, Invention Hiromi Matsugi
8 Isamu Noguchi’s “earthwork”: an Anticipation of Land Art and an Identity Question Hiromi Matsugi
11 Henry McBride, « Attractions in the Galleries », New York Sun, 2 février 1935, quoted by Isamu Noguchi in Isamu Noguchi, A Sculptor’s World, Londres, Thames and Hudson, p. 22. in Isamu Noguchi’s “earthwork”: an Anticipation of Land Art and an Identity Question Hiromi Matsugi
Who would believe, considering today's leprous shores, withered edges,
all this smoky landscape, invaded by construction sites and factories,
that around 1860, in view of Saint-Ouen island, beautiful trees were
growing, offered rich and thick foliage, that it was here - on this
island - that Edouard Manet conceived and created The Luncheon on the
Paris landscape and its surroundings seems to have changed a lot in a relatively short period of time. However, the attractivness of lunches on the grass, or picnics, has not disappeared. On May 16th, a few days after the end of the lockdown, the Parisien (a french daily newspaper) titled a video At bois de Vincennes, the comeback of lunches on the grass. During an outdoor picnic, we don't only eat food (and besides, it's often not as good as what we can eat at home), we also consume the setting that surrounds us. It wouldn't occur to us to picnic where the setting is ugly. The location is also carefully chosen, not too many branches or stones or brambles, preferably flat ground and shade to protect from the sun. Would the decor painted by Manet, corresponding to this ideal, have defined the criteria for the perfect picnic spot?
The Lunch on the Grass is the largest canvas by Edouard Manet, the one on that he realized the dream that all painters have: to put life-size figures in a landscape. ...] What you have to see in the painting is not Lunch on the Grass, it is the whole landscape, with its strength and finesse, with its foregrounds so wide and solid and its backgrounds of such light delicacy; [...] it is this vast, airy whole, this corner of nature rendered with such a just simplicity, this whole admirable page in which an artist has put the particular and rare elements that were in him. 2
Can this dream of immortalizing the human presence in nature be found today in furniture stores, in advertising messages such as IKEA's: Bring nature into your home / 5 ways to invite nature into your bedroom / ... These slogans transform the way we see what is in the setting (or in the room) into a natural space in which we can be.
1 Edmond Pilon. (1939). L’Ile de France. B. Arthaud Editeur. p.38
2 Emile Zola quoted in Aut pictura, poesis : Baudelaire, Manet, Zola : Nicole Savy
Artificial grass is increasingly replacing lawns, especially in
sports fields such as tennis or football. The main interest is
While it costs around 20,000 Swiss francs per year to maintain
an artificial surface, the natural grass surface costs more than
twice as much. In addition, the natural surface has a service life
of 10 to 15 years, depending on the model, while the natural
surface has to be changed several times during the season.
1 The visual illusion is becoming more and more perfect,
but effects on players' health can be felt.
Specialists such as Dr. Gérald Gremion, head of the Swiss Olympic
Medical Center in Lausanne, confirm the danger. "The absorption
capacity of this type of surface is less, which increases the
risk of aches, sprains or torn ligaments," he warns.
In just a few years, the impression made by artificial lawn has improved considerably. In 2004, the team of the Jeunesse Esch in Luxembourg received a magnificent artificial lawn the day before ... which the gardener had mowed the day after its delivery. ...] Cut to the ground, the artificial grass had then suffered serious damage, even before being unable to host a single match. I see in this gardener's gesture the desire to go beyond the visual aspect of imitation. Looking is no longer enough, by behaving with an artificial grass in the same way as with a vegetable one, the gardener wanted to animate it. Shouldn't we think, as the next improvement for artificial lawns, to make them grow?
I mowed a line in an artificial grass to pay homage to this gardener, and to perfect the illusion, hoping to see it grow again.
1 La controverse du gazon artificiel Marc Allgöver
3 Le jardinier tond la pelouse synthétique du stade, une boulette à 800 000 euros Fred
This sculpture project originates from a souvenir of my visit in
January 2020 of the Koishikawa Kōrakuen, a garden located in Tokyo.
Many comments found on the internet praise the beauty of this site
in autumn, when the leaves blush and blend with the red of the bridge,
or in spring when the weeping cherry tree on the banks of Osensui
, the main lake, is in bloom. During my visit, although open to
the public, the garden is under construction and I witness another
spectacle, that of creation, or rather of maintenance, that of the
machines and beings that repair.
When I visit a garden, I often forget the underlying construction work, or more precisely, I don't think about it. The illusion of naturalness is perfect, yet the grading, the leveling, the installation of ponds and electrical systems, everything is artificial. Terms such as "landscape construction" and "landscape mason" make an obvious link between building site and nature.
Before arriving at the tsutenkyo (the red bridge) I take a staircase that climbs up a hill. A guardrail made of green construction cone assembled by stringers is temporarily installed. The sculpture I imagine takes up this configuration, but in the absence of steps, I superimpose the cones to represent the slope.
Studying the mimicry of his chameleon raised in freedom in his
studio and the colours to be used, the artist
arbitrarily chose three basic colours borrowed from nature and the
— A meadow green: this is the dominant colour, resulting from a mixture of several greens visible in nature and according to the season: the colour of the grass, the leaves of the vegetables in the garden and the trees.
— Red-brown: this is a colour that reflects the local soil of Lorraine, a colour that Louis Guingot saw daily in his garden and in the surrounding fields. Probably, he was also inspired by the reddish-brown mosses hanging on stone walls and the edges of garden paths.
— A dark blue: commonly known as "the Guingot blue", it is a particular blue that only the artist knew the secret of its manufacture and that he used commonly in his theatre sets, to partially underline shadows, branches, trees... 1
It was in 1914, at the beginning of the conflict with Germany, that Louis Guingot, together with Eugène Corbin, director of the Magasins Réunis, created a camouflage jacket for the French army soldiers, still wearing the madder red trousers of 1870. The two men wanted to offer an alternative to this uniform, which exposes the French infantryman to all dangers. Eugène Corbin supplied Louis Guingot with a canvas jacket made in his Nancy workshops. On this jacket, Louis Guingot drew inspiration from the work of the Impressionist painters and the Pointillists to create the motifs intended to hide the troops in the surrounding landscape. 2
Would military camouflage have been possible without Impressionism, and without the emergence in our midst of Japanese albums and images [that] completed the transformation, introducing us to an absolutely new colouring system 3? Art and its exchanges modifying our perceptions, how would this jacket have been painted in another artistic context, a few decades earlier? Or later? Rather than hiding the artillery pieces under large canvases painted in the colours of the surrounding nature, would the soldiers have hidden them under Didier Marcel's earth-coloured "Labours"?
In the regular French-manner gardens, inspired by the sculptures of Roman Antiquity, the statue became the most prized ornament among the creators and theorists of garden art of the Louis XIV era 4. As a reminder of those human representations, I placed a mannequin in the middle of the garden. Present (or absent) for too long, ivy has grown on its immobile body. Great reader of Romanticism, the gardener made plant masks to cover its mouth and nose, in prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic.
1 « La première veste de camouflage de guerre du monde » est inventée par Louis Guingot Frédéric Thiery
2 Musée Lorain Website
3Duret Théodore, 1885, Critique d’avant-garde, p. 98. quoted by Michael Lucken in Les Fleurs artificielles
4 Reinventing garden sculpture at the 1925 Paris exhibition of decorative arts Louis Gevart
By autumn, the leaves turn yellow and red and conifers appear in the middle of the deciduous trees of mixed forests. They can be distinguished until spring. The idea that these two types of trees can be represented by the same object is quite beautiful: a green parasol unfolded or folded up. And under their shadows I find the freshness of the undergrowth. This photomontage is the only one made before the residence, probably to remind us that the trees grew somewhere else before being moved to the garden space.
Like all public squares, the Place Saint Léger is populated by
small and large dog droppings. It can be seen as a park of anonymous
sculptures paying homage to bourgeois cuisine because according to
my research, in small towns, most dogs turn their tails at canigou
[French brand of dog food] and other cans.
It was the same on the square overlooking my studio in Monflanquin. Each day brought its new cases. Thinking back to the project for the Place Saint Léger in Chambery proposed by the artist Erik Dietman (to install bronze full-scale dog excrement sculptures instead of the real ones), I think I could have thought of something to change the status of these excrement. As soon as the first wild flowers appeared, I could have picked some to plant in the droppings and we would have said to ourselves: "Oh, today there are still plenty of new flowers, how beautiful nature is...". " rather than getting angry at nameless dogs. Considering their number, the square would have quickly turned into a small garden.
If one is rather fond of flowers inside the house, one can replicate this process with artificial grass litter.
"ANYTHING THAT CASTS A SHADOW IS SCULPTURE, EVEN DOG SHIT........................................."
1 Erik Dietman on Agency of Unrealised Projects Website
In an Auchan supermarket, while shopping, I am astonished by the name of a water: Orée du bois (Edge of the wood) (6X1L). Its romantic name makes me want to go outside, and as Titeshuya remarks in his·her review left on Auchan website the format is convenient, perfect to take everywhere. So I take it in my bag for a walk in the forest and discover at the edge of a wood a pond covered with tiny green floating plants, whose stagnant water full of mosquito larvae seems to correspond more precisely to its name than the clear water. I fill my now empty bottle with it and repeat the process the following days for the whole pack. I take care to draw the same volume of pond water from each of them, and once put together on the table, the green surface reproduces visually through the plastic walls. I wonder how many bottles will be needed to reconstitute the whole pond.
To tame places, peoples, practices and ideas that are strange and
foreign implies that they should be detached, at least partially,
from their particular roots. Appadurai (1986: 28) evokes in that
respect an "aesthetics of de-contextualization" by taking as an
example the misappropriation of sacred objects or tools from
distant countries that are marketed, consumed and exhibited in
European and North American homes. In religious exoticism, we will
find such a process of de-contextualization and provision where
[...] these are presented as practical methods of accessing
well-being and self-realization - which, of course, makes them
familiar and predictable. 1
In DIY and garden stores, many orientalizing articles are offered for sale. Mainly of Buddhist inspiration, these objects praise the possibility of a calm, meditative space, a "Zen" bubble in our swarming and noisy modernity. I typed " Buddha " in the search bar of different websites (Leroy Merlin, Point P, Jardiland...), and I always get something to buy. I can classify the different Buddhas from A to Z, by increasing or decreasing price. The ambivalence of the desire to recharge one's batteries with so-called oriental religions, which one would like to adjust to the Euro-American societies values and lifestyles (because they are too austere, too "fanatical" and, implicitly, too "oriental") is a result of a religious exoticism. This exoticism implies an idealization of traditions that are foreign to us as primordial, mystical and authentic entities and also reveals a deep ambivalence. Fascination coexists with a more or less pronounced discomfort with strange and distant traditions, making it necessary to tame them. 2 This taming is explicit in these stores. Often staged in quasi-parodic configurations, buyers can appropriate these objects by transposing them by imagination into their own garden then by buying them. We make it a trend. Giving your exterior the look of a Zen garden is in vogue today. The use of elements such as Japanese footsteps makes possible to create pure spaces where the aim is to walk as well as to recharge one's batteries.3
A garden is above all for walking. Japanese footsteps build the idea of a path and materialize the contact points between our body and the ground. What is beautiful in a garden is not each element but the relationship between the elements. What is even more important is that there is space, human and time. A human has to walk in it with his feet to discover it.4 Here, the path has been shaped for an aesthetic effect, with stones so-called, in garden art, "crossing stones", watari ishi 渡り石 (often translated as "Japanese footsteps"). They are used in particular in the tea garden, roji 露地. Their name literally means "stones" (ishi 石) for "crossing" (wataru 渡る). To cross what? The garden, apparently, to the tea house (chashitsu 茶室). [...] Besides walking, there is obviously also some scenery, or decoration; but that's not all yet. The word that means "to cross", wataru 渡る, is written with a sinogram with water radical on its left, in the form of three drops. This is because, in fact, the original idea was to cross a river, or more precisely a mountain stream, by jumping from stone to stone. 5
This sculpture is designed to be crossed. A path of flat stones (Japanese footsteps) is used to cross the space. The stretched blue construction tarpaulin is a memory of my Koishikawa Kōrakuen visit, the oldest garden in Tokyo. When I went to visit it in January, the garden was under renovation. A large tarpaulin was covering a trench dug in the earth, a river in the making. In the sculpture, the tarp is a bit raised to evoke "the risk" of slipping off the stone and falling into the water.
1 Religious Exoticism and Hybridity Véronique Altglas
3 Point.P Website
4 Isamu Noguchi quoted in Isamu Noguchi’s “earthwork”: an Anticipation of Land Art and an Identity Question Hiromi Matsugi
5 The Walking to Japan Augustin Berque
Fall here refers directly to the waterfall. A garden
is said to be cursive (gyô)
if the emphasis is put on symbolic designs (an upright stone
suggesting a waterfall) 1. Here, it is not a stone but a transparent shower
curtain that represents the waterfall. In both cases, stone and
curtain, the water is suggested by the element against which it
flows. It is made visible by its absence. The preformed black plastic
pond is used to install a small water feature in a garden. Buried,
its outline is often hidden by cleverly placed stones. Small
compartments on the inside edges of the basin usually accommodate
water plants.To perfect the layout of my pond, I added lotus flowers
found at the supermarket: a roll of Lotus brand toilet paper and
Tahiti shower gel "under a tropical waterfall", with lotus flowers.
A few kilometers from Monflanquin is the Latour-Marliac water lily and lotus nursery. Unfortunately, as I left because of the lockdown on March 15th, I could not visit it, as the opening to the public starts every year on April 15th. However, I realize that I have already seen part of its production in Giverny, in Claude Monet's Jardin d'eau. Once the Giverny pond was finished, Claude Monet ordered a large quantity of water lilies from Latour-Marliac; the order forms are still in our archives. These are the same water lilies that were to become the subject of his famous paintings, the Water Lilies, now on display at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris. It is surprising to note that in the historical works relating to Claude Monet's most famous paintings, there is little or no mention at all of Latour-Marliac's role in their creation. It is arguable, however, that Claude Monet painted more than just pretty flowers - he managed to capture a botanical innovation on canvas and his paintings are among the earliest mentions of non-white water lilies growing in Europe. 2
1 Les jardins japonais : principes d'aménagement et évolution historique François Berthier
2 Latour-Marliac Website
Bamboo became an object of exoticism as soon as it arrived in France,
when Eugène Mazel created the Prafrance bamboo plantation,
a small China 1 as he so aptly describes it. While
stacking glasses at home, I am surprised by the formal and structural
analogy between my stack and a bamboo culm: the bottom of the glasses
is as full as a node and the body is hollow.
1 La bambouseraie Prafrance, Eugène Mazel, le rêve prend corps. Jeanine Galzin in Les jardins du retour, ed. Les Carnets de l'exotisme, p.80
Can we walk around a supermarket? Or rather, can we think of the
supermarket as a place for strolling or philosophy? While shopping,
in the middle of the shower gel and shampoo aisle, I imagine myself
in a tropical greenhouse. Here I am surrounded by a collection of
products in many bright and eternal colours, with contained, secret
and inaccessible smells, except when I get closer and open the lid.
And some labels indicate me the name of these flowers and give me
some information about their attributes. I learn, for example, that
coconut water is
well-known for its moisturizing properties1 and
that orange blossom,
this elegant white flower is harvested between April and May after
the dew has lifted 2, on the labels of Le Petit Marseillais' Coconut water
and orange blossom moisturizing shampoo.
If hypermarket is a garden, it is time to specify that it is rather a "greenhouse" (Note that the figure of the greenhouse here is much more than a metaphor, as Dominique Desjeux  shows when he reminds us that department stores and large tropical greenhouses in Paris, Copenhagen or Kew Gardens in London were made possible by the mobilization of the same architecture of glass and steel), and moreover, an opaque greenhouse, a storehouse. However, in the storehouse, three types of windows have been cut out, often independently of the gardener, but also in spite of him, or even on his initiative, all symptomatically open towards the environment - towards the city and/or towards nature.3
Taking this remark at face value, this window opening towards nature is perceptible on these same labels. The words nature or natural are omnipresent. This window opens up in the imagination of consumers. The evoked nature sells and transforms the shower into a sensory experience. When pleasure comes into play, the effectiveness of the product against dirt is no longer the only determinant of this choice at the purchase time, but a multitude of other parameters appear, such as the smell - and what it implies as an effect on the "shower experience" -, the aesthetics of the packaging or the characterization of the moment itself as pleasure, relaxation or revitalization. Indeed, "the consumer does not consume the products but, on the contrary, consumes the meaning of these products, their image. That the object fulfils certain functions is taken for granted by the consumer: it is the image that makes the difference" (Cova et Cova, 2004, p. 201).4 Could it also be the image that makes nature?
I went to Monflanquin's Casino supermarket to collect flowers and plants from shower gels or shampoos bottles labels. During the lockdown, I was able to continue my picking in Burgundy at Avallon and Clamecy's Auchan supermarkets. As supermarkets were the only areas still open, I wondered even more seriously whether these areas could be considered as places to stroll around. Only official excuse to move around, some of my friends couple separated by the lockdown sometimes went there to meet for a few moments. With the idea of reshaping a garden from these nature images, I planted them in soil and combined them with gardening specific elements.
1 Petit Marseillais Website
3 The Superstore: Another Type of Garden at the Doors of the City Franck Cochoy
4 An Economic Construct? Consumer Products and Gender Differentiation. The Case of Shower Gels, Isabelle Jonveaux
SANNOLIK Vase, pink, 17 cm, 5€
BLANDA BLANK Serving bowl, stainless steel, 20 cm, 4 €
TROLLBERGET Active sit/stand support, Glose black, 89 €
FEJKA Artificial plant, in/outdoor, Box ball shaped, 35 cm, 23 €
TINGBY Side table on castors, white, 50x50 cm, 29 €
Total height: approx. 142 cm
Total price: 150 €
I chose objects at IKEA store for their shape: cube, sphere, pyramid, hemisphere and a drop shape (or a jewel shape). They symbolize respectively earth, water, fire, wind and the void and together form the five Japanese elements: godai .
In Asia, warriors pass on rituals that stimulate body and mind,
the secret of their physical and mental well-being from generation
to generation. Ushuaïa restores these ancestral rituals to you in
its new Ushuaïa Rituals of Asia shower gels for men. Ushuaïa
Research has selected volcanic rock and combined it with refreshing
natural menthol, giving the skin a cooling effect that awakens the
This description on the back of the bottle of Ushuaia's Rituals of Asia shower gel stumps me. Which warriors are these? I suppose the Mount Fuji printed on the front of the bottle must direct us to Japan, but why be so evasive? Asia is huge. Much more than the area defined by a circle surrounding ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) by Ushuaia. Looking at this product's reviews, a customer comment confirms that we are talking about samurai here.
A shower door that opens, a dose of gel in your hand, you close your eyes, and you find yourself propelled to Hakone at the beginning of Meiji era. I feel the rough breath of the samurais around me and in the distance the banner of the Shogun. The fight begins, the sabre blows, spurts out and causes sparks that spurt out flames on the dry twigs on the edge of the lake. The volcano rumbles, the atmosphere becomes heavy and sulphurous, the temperature rises as volcanic ashes gush out. The sakuras are crying from this spectacle that is about to happen, the ronin goes back to its den, the men separate, I return to Kanazawa. I open my eyes, I have travelled and I smell good.2
This caricatured comment, in addition to being historically false (there is no longer a shogun at Meiji era), shows an experience solely triggered by the packaging exoticism. The shower gel fragrances (namely volcanic rock and menthol) in themselves cannot develop imagination in this way. It is no longer just a question of becoming clean, but of a multi-sensory experience acting on body and mind, as [also] the Palmolive commercial promoting a "wellness shower for body and mind", with the image of a woman in an oriental meditation position.3 "The Japanese experience" is increasingly offered in shower gels and shampoos, but also in washing up liquids and detergents. The fragrant window through which we are invited to enter is the cherry blossom, frequently coupled with lotus or green tea. Through the figure of Japan, and more generally the East, far from a real interest in anOther culture, personal benefits for our bodies are almost always sought: soothing, relaxation or martial energy, a set of exotic clichés that the Western world continues to impose. Exoticism is the product of the discourse on a relationship. Yet, as Claude Raffestin notes, "every relationship is the place where power emerges" (1979:46). (1979:46) Exoticism is thus based on power relations. Raphaël Confiant, a Martinican writer, makes an enlightening comment on these relationships: "neither the coconut tree nor the white sandy beach are exotic in my daily life, but as soon as I use the French language to evoke them, I literally find myself taken hostage, terrorized in the etymological sense of the term by the reifying gaze of the West" (quoted by Schon, 2003: 16).4
The primary function of the product is thus almost obscured behind its secondary functions: who today asks the question of whether one shower gel washes well, or better than another?5
1 Rituels d’Asie on Amazon Website
2 Customer review of Rituels d’Asie on Amazon Website
3 An Economic Construct? Consumer Products and Gender Differentiation. The Case of Shower Gels Isabelle Jonveaux
4 L’Occident peut-il être exotique ? De la possibilité d'un exotisme inversé Lionel Gauthier
5 An Economic Construct? Consumer Products and Gender Differentiation. The Case of Shower Gels Isabelle Jonveaux