Grey Gardens

Nona Inescu invests the spaces of the Art Center with a new project and a set of works produced during her residency in Saint-Fons. Through photography, video and sculpture, the artist invites us into a surprising environment, inhabited by heavy matter or delicate gestures that draw a new ecosystem; a garden in the era of the technosphere.

The recent theories of the post-human – of a rethought anthropology where the human would not be at the center but which privileges a relational and interdependent relationship between organisms and ecosystems as well as the erosion of the traditional borders between the human and the non-human – are an important source of inspiration for the artist, as well as is botany or lithology.

In the works presented in the exhibition, Nona Inescu proposes a recomposed nature; a new paradigm where the mineral and the botanical world are omnipresent and open unexpected relations between the sphere of the living and the non-living.

The exhibition borrows its title from a cult documentary from the 1970s, in which a ruined villa inhabited by a mother and a daughter, and its lush garden, becomes an allegory of human decay and of a nature that takes over the habitat.

Biblical or futuristic garden, Garden of Delights, the garden of time, real or imaginary garden, or an allegorical garden where tensions and power relations between species appear. The garden has always been a micro and macrocosm, a place of heterotopias. It is also the place par excellence where different species coexist and thrive.

Nona Inescu’s garden is a place of metamorphoses, populated by hybrid forms where the artist blurs the boundaries between spaces and materials and reveals a new ecosystem. ‘‘The life of the species on our planet is a constant metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is the kinship that simultaneously gathers – and divides – all living beings.’’[1]

In the exhibition, a steel jungle spreads on the floors and climbs on the walls of the art center. The artist translates in her works a possible transformation of the material and the (non) living because in the new botanical garden steel stems grow as well as enormous caterpillars – emblem par excellence of the transformation – and postmodern plants. The video Still Lives is a succession of gestures that punctuate the transformation and the poetry (and irreversibility) of the passing of time that crystalizes in a faded flower and opposes the roughness of immortal steel. A gesture – a hand – that of the artist, is the only reminder of a human presence.

Grey gardens is a changing landscape. A possible landscape of the future?

[1] Emanuele Coccia, Métamorphoses, Payot-Rivages, 2020, p.82