Change of the Seasons

2018    installation for Artis Royal Zoo with MOAM Amsterdam

The Japanese Garden in Artis Royal Zoo is a thoughtfully orchestrated square of nature. There is an harmonious interplay between nature and the man-made, which manifests in carefully placed rocks all over the garden and a selection of trees and plants that grow freely within the bamboo fencing. In the Japanese Garden, nature is framed like an art piece to show its beauty to the public. It is a calm environment where visitors can be inspired by the wonders of nature.

I consider the idea of aesthetics and the respect for nature that I found in the Japanese Garden to be a poetic metaphor for the entire Artis Zoo. I saw a similar vision on showing the flow of nature within designed frames – bringing nature closer to the public and letting visitors experience the world of living things in a playful and inspirational way.

CHANGE OF THE SEASONS

The installation for the Japanese Garden revolves around the four seasons and the changes that occur in nature throughout the course of a year. The four objects represent the beauty in the subtle transformations in nature during the seasons and zoom in on the changing details in the garden.

One of the most pronounced characteristics of the Japanese garden throughout its history has been the appreciation of the beauty of natural rock. In Shinto religion rocks are considered the stage of worship of a divine presence concealed within them. But even without mentioning a higher power there are enough wonderful elements to admire, like the beauty in the detailed cracks of the rocks and the patterns of moss that cover them.

Change of the Seasons plays with the plants and rocks of the Garden as well as Japanese traditions that are closely connected to the seasons. Each object is a metaphor for a certain season.

The Winter object is inspired by yukitsuri (雪吊り) or ‘‘snow hanging’’, a centuries-old technique that
is used to protect the trees from the heavy snowfall in the winter. Yukitsuri is a construction made out of ropes and bamboo poles that must ensure that the branches of the trees do not break under the weight of the snow. With this Object, instead of being protected itself, the tree becomes the carrier of the yukitsuri construction.

The objects for Spring are inspired by the Koinobori (鯉のぼり) carp streamers, which hang outside and dance in the wind from April to the beginning of May in honor of Children’s Day. This is to celebrate and hope for a good future for all the children, that they grow up to be healthy and strong. This seemed as a good metaphor for the movements in Spring, the time when new life starts to grow. The silhouettes of the Spring streamers are inspired by flowers that grow in the Japanese Garden of Artis Royal Zoo, such as the Dens Canis and the Hamamelis virginica.

Instead of focusing on the summer heat, the poets in the (mid-)Heian Period wrote about searching for coolness in the summer. Inspiration for the Summer Object was found in the Shinto tradition of the shimenawa (holy rope) and shide (paper streamers), that are hung around shrines, stones and trees to honour the divine presence that lives there. By enlarging the shimenawa they transformed into objects that looked like sunhats, providing shade from the summer sun.

The Objects for Autumn are obi inspired covers. The prints show the bright yellow leaves of the Gingko Biloba Tree, to represent the dance of the bright coloured leaves which Nature seems to use to welcome and celebrate the transition from Summer to Autumn.

Change of the Seasons was part of the group-exhibition Art=ARTIS in ARTIS Royal Zoo in Amsterdam from April 19 until August 26 2018 in collaboration with MOAM Amsterdam.