FRAC Alsace garden
Schatz & Jardin
Steiner & Lenzlinger
Schatz & Jardin is the new garden created by Swiss artist duo Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger for the FRAC Alsace. It was inaugurated on June 26, 2021, and will occupy the premises for 10 years.
In the soil of this garden lies a treasure preserving a collective secret for the next 10 years.
In January 2021, the people of Sélestat, friends and acquaintances of FRAC Alsace and the artist duo Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger, were invited to take part in the creation of a collective treasure. It was an unusual way of wishing a happy new year in the midst of a pandemic and confinement, a gesture of openness at a time when everything was closed and people entrenched within their own four walls. The call for participation asked: “Will you entrust us with a treasure for our collection? The artists asked: What will happen in 10 years’ time? What’s important to you now? Is your treasure material or spiritual? What will the earth and its creatures do with this treasure? What will it be worth in 10 years? Can a secret mature?
For the Schatz & Jardin project, the artists worked on the volumes of the garden, shaping a landscape of hills and watering holes to create areas of shade and humidity. It’s a garden that offers plants, insects, animals and humans a shelter, a biotop, a refuge for a diversity of organisms. Paths have been laid out and a system installed to collect water from the river. Gravel, sand, stone, marl, humus, manure, fodder, clay, stumps, branches and compost are all ideal for the development of a wide variety of plants and micro-organisms. Our treasure is the soil; it’s the basis for all growth and the life that develops in it.
Finally, in April and May 2021, shrubs, trees, both cultivated and gleaned wild plants were sown by the artists in nearby wastelands. Insect hosts, medicinal plants and climbers were sown and transplanted. The known and the unknown, the large and the infinitely small. The artists shared their precious collection of home-grown seeds with the FRAC, and the people of Sélestat brought plants from their own gardens. From now on, the garden will unfold its own dynamic. No more pruning, no more uprooting of plants. The time factor can play freely.
The garden is not only a refuge for plants and animals, but also for humans, a place to observe, discover and learn, a little hidden paradise. Seats invite us to rest, edible fruit can be nibbled, a shelter protects us from the rain and a globe-shaped statue of sense perception allows us to experience our own resonance. Hidden under branches, we can lie down in a mysterious cave or crawl through a tunnel to wonderland.
Let us be surprised by the transformation wrought over these ten years on the garden, the treasure and all of us. Humans don’t know it – they’re birds too!
Since 1997, Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger have been working together to create extraordinary plant installations for specific locations. Committed to the conservation of species through mixing and cohabitation rather than monoculture, they create lush landscapes where unpredictable coexistences and poetic symbioses gradually take shape. Between chance, the pleasure of play, animist and alchemist strategies, the artists provoke systemic interactions and invite us to take seriously the beauty that comes from the abundance and diversity of nature. They invite us to observe the strange laboratory of the living and to question our representations of fertility and growth.
FRAC Alsace is funded by the Ministère de la Culture / DRAC Grand Est and the Région Grand Est. Schatz & Jardin is supported by Pro Helvetia, the Basel-Stadt Department of Culture and other private sponsors.
Our partners: the Ville de Sélestat, Vogel TP, Agrivalor, Les Pépinières Jean Gissinger and the depositors of treasures and plants. Thanks also to the students and teachers of the Aménagement et valorisation des espaces final year class at the Lycée agricole de Rouffach, who took part in the ECOTOPIA project.