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“The Picturesque, the Abscissa and the Ordinate”


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Location: Geneva / Switzerland / Type: Installations / Built: 2021 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on March 6, 2024

This year, the botanical and cultural program Summer in the Garden takes place at the Meyrin Alpine Botanical Garden. It continues the common thread of Botanica, the event of the Swiss Botanical Gardens, with the theme “Climate change and the plant kingdom – The rise of invasive neophytes”. The visual artist Gilles Brusset, also author of the landscape sculpture “The Fold’s Childhood” inaugurated in 2017 at Meyrin-Parc, was invited to invade the Botanical Garden of Meyrin with an artistic installation “The Picturesque, the Abscissa and the orderly”, designed especially for the occasion.

As is often the case in the design of his projects, Gilles Brusset immersed himself in the history of the Alpine Botanical Garden. The origin of this “piece of mountain” in the heart of Meyrin is primarily due to the owner of Villa Montgardin, Amable Gras. At the dawn of the 20th century, this fabric merchant saw in the sloping morphology of his land the possibility of developing a garden which would be an idealized representation of an Alpine landscape. Let us remember that at the beginning of the 20th century, Meyrin was a rural village which, from the 1960s, underwent an incredible metamorphosis. It was during this period that the first satellite city in Switzerland was built in Meyrin, one of the most accomplished urban and architectural operations. With the development of commercial zones and new cities as well as all road infrastructures, the Botanical Garden finds itself enclosed like an island in the middle of concrete, an enclave of greenery in an ever more extensive urban fabric.

Gilles Brusset likes to explore the relationships between architecture and nature, which he finds here through the urban plan of the city and the history of this garden. In this context, he then imagines a sculpture made up of vertical and horizontal lines, echoing architecture. His new creation The picturesque, the abscissa and the ordinate invites the forms of the city to enter the garden and bring together the utopia of total urbanization and the ideal preciousness of botanical gardens. These landscape sculptures allow us to see what is there, multiply the frames and images and provoke a new look at this island of biodiversity at the heart of concrete. They question the place of nature and urban development, the invasion of one on the other but also their cohabitation. With the picturesque, the abscissa and the ordinate, we wonder if it is the garden which exits into the city or the city which enters the garden.

The artistic intervention takes root at the threshold of the garden, towards the entrances, thus dialoguing in this in-between of the garden and the city.

When one enters under and into the sculptures, an assembly of wooden and steel rafters covered with mirrors, the visitor finds himself as if in a labyrinth or a cage of reflections. This optical game thus creates a series of mirages, of illusions in which it is difficult to differentiate between what is imagination or reality.

Project Data

Landscape architecture: paysarchitectures

Project location: Meyrin, Geneva

Year completed: 2021

Photo credits: “Pierre-Yves Brunaud” (PYB) + “Meyrin Culture / Olivier Murith (OM)”

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