DRYAS PROJECT, 2015
Installation (Photographis, video and cartographies)

Collaboration with Crystal Bennes & Tom Jeffreys

11 500 years ago, a cold wave hits Western Europe. While the last mammoths disappear in glacial nights, a small white flower, now seen under arctic latitudes, covers the frozen land. This installation shows the result of an expedition on the traces of this plant.

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On the traces of Dryas Octopetala. An expedition in landscapes covered by the ice 11 5000 yrs ago. France, 2015


Here grew the Dryas Octopetala, Plant from the Arctic toundra,
Rayogram, 19 x 13 cm, Ile-de-France, 2015


Here grew the Dryas Octopetala, Plant from the Arctic toundra,
Rayogram, 19 x 13 cm, Ile-de-France, 2015


Here grew the Dryas Octopetala, Plant from the Arctic toundra,
Rayogram, 19 x 13 cm, Ile-de-France, 2015


Here grew the Dryas Octopetala, Plant from the Arctic toundra,
Rayogram, 19 x 13 cm, Ile-de-France, 2015


Here grew the Dryas Octopetala, Plant from the Arctic toundra,
Rayogram, 19 x 13 cm, Ile-de-France, 2015


Expedition in contemporary landscapes colonised by Dryas Octopetala, Lapland, 2015
Walk realised by Tom Jeffreys and Crystal Bennes


Arctic Toundra,
Photpograph by Crystal Bennes, Lapland, 2015


Arctic Toundra,
Photograph by Crystal Bennes, Lapland, 2015


Arctic Toundra,
Photpograph by Crystal Bennes, Lapland, 2015

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Dryas octopetala is a solitary plant, a perennial and hermaphrodite flower. Today, it is found throughout the frozen relief of the Arctic or high pastures.

However, recent samples taken from turf cores now reveal the presence of these plants at low altitudes in western Europe. Pollen from dryas octopetala have even been discovered in French soil. Their pollen comes from the last glaciation before our time. Its is between 12,800 and 11,500 old.

Indeed, while Wurmians glaciers were beginning to retreat, the dryas was one of the first plants to re-colonise the lands freed up from the ice. Its presence was so great in north west Europ at the time a vast tundra that it gave its name to the ultimate cold oscillation that precedes the Holocene: the Younger Dryas.

From Parisian suburb to Lapland, this research sets in perspective two environments. While visual artist Anaïs Tondeur walked through landscapes inhabited by dryas octopetala more than 11 500 years ago, photograph Crystal Bennes and writer Tom Jeffreys wandered through the frozen toundra, where these plants still grow.

This double expedition has been developed as a perspective on our time. It is as though a “a step back” in the past, allows new gaze to open up to our current epoch, to see similar or different issues and solutions to bring forth. (M. Yourcenar)

This project proposes a vision that sets itself back from the anthropocentrism of environmental history as a way to explore climate variations through the perspective of a plant and to give a voice, one day, to other living beings.

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This installation was created during a residency with the palynologists and paleo-climatologists from Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle and Université Pierre and Marie Curie as part of the Program Demain, Le Climat. It was exhibited during ArtCOP21







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