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Jeu de Paume's virtual space offers a take on the issues surrounding energy and food management
The French artistic duo examine flora in terms of its active immobility, its flexibility and adaptability, and its relevance as a model for devising new economic and social schemas.

PARIS.- The interactive platform of artists Magali Daniaux & Cédric Pigot in the Jeu de Paume’s virtual space offers an unusual take on the issues surrounding energy and food management.

One of the sections of this online project is devoted to the Global Seed Vault, an underground bunker in the Svalbard archipelago, inside the Arctic circle, where seeds of all the plants that provide food for humans are kept. Another section enables users to log onto a live stream from Kirkenes, a small town in northern Norway, strategically located on the Barents Sea, where prospecting for gas and oil reserves takes place.

The French artistic duo examine flora in terms of its active immobility, its flexibility and adaptability, and its relevance as a model for devising new economic and social schemas. In a globalised world where it is no longer possible to flee, the artists see plant stratagems as ultra-contemporary models, drawing on them for inspiration to create their “Devenir Graine” platform.

This work, with its diversity of content and media, takes as its starting point Kirkenes, a small town in northern Norway, strategically located on the Barents Sea, and the islands of the Svalbard archipelago, situated inside the Arctic circle, which provide a metaphorical illustration of the relations between man and nature.

By combining poetry, fiction, documentary, interviews and performance, “Devenir Graine” takes a surrealist journey through the contemporary Arctic while tackling the hottest geopolitical and geostrategic issues: global warming, urban development, cross-border collaboration between Norway and Russia, opening up of the Schengen zone, managing fossil fuel and nuclear resources, as well as the development of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and the commercialisation of living things. This project imagines the Arctic as a gigantic back up, a huge protective reserve, for a biocentric humankind living in environments that are climate-controlled and designed to order. “The fridge world” – a promise of death and eternity.

“The closest populated land to the north Pole is the Svalbard archipelago, situated inside the Arctic circle, more than a thousand kilometres to the north of the Scandinavian peninsula. for a long time, the place served as a base camp for whalers. Today it is inhabited by 3,000 polar bears and 2,600 humans, for the most part norwegians and Russians, mostly concentrated on Spitzberg island, and working in mining, tourism and scientific research. Svalbard University, which has around 500 students and teachers from twenty-five countries is located at Longyearbyen, formerly Longyear City, named after john Munroe Longyear, who founded the Arctic coal company. Longyearbyen is also the site of the Global Seed Vault, excavated out of a sandstone mountain and inaugurated in 2008*”.

A section of this internet project is devoted to this universal seed bank, with filmed interviews, photographs and maps of places, sound recordings, films and testimonies.

The many specialists interviewed include: Cary fowler, former executive director of Global Crop Diversity Trust, which set up the seed bank; Roland Von Bothmer, professor of genetics at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science; eirik newth, astrophysicist; Kirill Korbrin, journalist for Radio europe/ Radio Liberty, Prague; William engdahl author of the book Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation and natalja Kalinina, researcher with the Knipovich Polar Research institute of Marine fisheries and Oceanography (Pinro), Russia.

3D simulations of the seed bank designed by the artists allow you to explore the corridors of this space interactively. Through short stories, in which science fiction cohabits with accounts of scientific research in the Arctic, the artists give you the chance to imagine the atmosphere in this freezing underground bunker. This multiform body of work will be regularly enriched by other online artistic features.

The botanist francis hallé, in an interview with the philosopher Raphaël Bessis, explains that “The plant, being fixed, must endure the vicissitudes of the environment where it is located. it cannot leave, and if it is not capable of flexibility it dies. One can thus understand how extraordinarily flexible, even labile and fluid, systems become established, and that applies to both the external form as well as behaviour and the genome. To an extent, a plant must be capable of changing itself, otherwise it will disappear because it is not adapted to its environment. An animal, if it does not like its conditions, has the option of moving until it finds satisfactory conditions. in this respect, it does not need to change itself very much. Animal flexibility in its external form is low, and the same applies to its genome. it has no reason to change itself internally. A single genome suits it.”

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Jeu de Paume's virtual space offers a take on the issues surrounding energy and food management

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