Pierre-Philippe Freymond
Chimera 1

 

Chimera 1 , installation presented at the Mamco
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Pierre-Philippe Freymond's strange tulip incubators give form to a garden of possibilities. Bulbs float in large sterilized tanks, while images of cattle are diffused at intervals accompanied by a muffled sound. This clinical, cold installation may unnerve viewers, but in reality it is even more perverse than it first seems. The artist, who is also a biologist, has incorporated calf DNA and mutagenic substances into the liquid, which the plants risk to absorb. Chimera thus becomes a reality as the vegetation could integrate the DNA sequences from the animal world into its genetic inheritance.
Although Freymond's installation makes use of recent scientific developments and deals with current issues relating to them, it also fits into the history of gardens, traditionally an art of confrontation between nature and culture. It must be remembered that a constant natural selection process, based on purely aesthetic genetic modification, distanced the many varieties of tulips from their common ancestor, creating periods of frenetic fads through history.
Apart from the desire to force the world of vegetation into artificial aesthetic forms, the history of gardens is also based around the confrontation of two distinct chronologies, organic time and the ephemeral human life span. Organic time is formed around a natural cycle which gives rhythm to our daily life. The artificial and organised proximity that we have created with nature is used as a reminder of the fragility of our existence : no cemetery without flowers, no park with century old trees.
Nonetheless, Pierre-Philippe Freymond's installation breaks with the standards of this confrontation. Although the potential genetic process is invisible, the effective knowledge we possess when looking at the vegetation renders it omnipresent. One of the main concerns of the Romanticists was an understanding of the forces of nature, through their study and elaboration in different forms. Whereas today, with our vague general knowledge of current scientific advances, we are troubled by the possibility that mankind could one day take control of this absolute strength that is creation.
However, if all vegetation has a relation to force, it remains a fragile and light construction. This is the case in Chimera 1 : under the horticultural neons, the corolla and stems of the plants seem at their most vulnerable. And as all gardens are living art, this work has a cyclical life.

Flowering planned for the 21st March, the Spring equinox.

Samuel Gross
(translation Katie Kennedy)

Chimera 1 is presented at Mamco under the initiative of attitudes, from 24th February to the 9th May 2004.