In December 2022, Jardins d’Étretat initiated the art residency program aimed at enriching the artistic heritage of Normandy by creating new opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and supporting young artists.
Artists and art collectives were invited to submit an application for an artistic research project that would innovatively examine the cultural and natural heritage of the region. This research would lead to the creation of an artwork - a site-specific installation in the space of the gardens. The artists selected were given the opportunity to stay at Villa Roxelane with full board accommodation, as well as a grant for the implementation of their large-scale project. One of the main goals of the program is to create all the necessary conditions for artists to build relationships with local organizations and fully immerse themselves in the context of the Seine-Maritime department.
Isabel Judez and Iga Vandenhove’s project was selected out of 178 applications. The artists proposed a multidisciplinary project that included conducting artistic research, collaborating with local actors, and producing an installation with visual and sound dimensions. In February, Judez and Vandenhove began researching the mineral landscape and ecosystem balance of Seine-Maritime and decided to work with materials prevalent in the region. Working with stone is a complex endeavor, so they formed a partnership with the Schuman-Perret technical school in Le Havre involving teachers, students and volunteers in the creation of the installation.
Judez and Vandenhove not only studied the mineral diversity of the region in depth, but thoroughly familiarized themselves with the characteristics of the Jardins d’Étretat as a place for creative research and exhibition. They paid special attention to the climate of Étretat and to the ever changing conditions of the gardens, in order to select adequate engineering solutions for the installation’s production. The process was completed on August 1st with the unveiling of the work Héritage Érodé in the Jardin d’Amont. The artwork will be on view in the gardens until December 24, 2024
Combining visual and sound elements, this site-specific installation is inspired by the mineral identity of Upper Normandy. Judez and Vandenhove analyzed the contrasts of the architectural and natural heritage of the region, and used materials that are present both in the city and in the natural landscape: sedimentary rocks, clay, cement.
The work consists of thousands of stones representing different stages of natural and artificial erosion of materials. Placed on three terraces on different levels, the installation shows a section of the Aval cliff in its constant formation and destruction. This kinetic effect depends on the visitor’s point of view: from one spot the work seems to form the complete landscape of a cliff, and from another it disintegrates and reverts to the appearance of separate pieces of stone, reminding us how precarious the state of natural resources is.
Living organisms, which played a key role in shaping the cliffs of the Alabaster Coast, hold a primordial place within the installation through the use of marine terrazzo. This material, made from the remains of sea creatures, shells and cement, epitomizes the intertwining between the natural and the artificial.
These polarities are also reflected in the motion activated soundscape. Multidirectional audio sources create a sound environment reminiscent of the Channel coast. However, here too lies an illusion: the sound of the sea was in fact recreated with the use of a concrete mixer recorded in the workshop, while a drill imitates the calls of seagulls. The work directly raises the question of the human impact on modern ecosystem cycles and challenges the boundary between the natural and the human-made.
Isabel Judez (b.1992) is a Venezuelan artist and architect of Spanish origin, living and working in Paris. She pays particular attention to the themes of identity and belonging, favoring site-specific projects and the reuse of materials found in the areas where she decides to work. Judez’s involvement of researchers, engineers, volunteers, activists and other participants in the creation process has become a feature of her artistic method. Inspired by kinetic art, she often uses the language of geometric abstraction. She co-authored the installation Héritage Érodé at Jardins d’Étretat and was the lead artist for the visual concept.
Iga Vandenhove (b.1989) is a French sound and visual artist, and documentary filmmaker. She lives and works in France and in the various countries where her projects take her (most recently Bolivia). Vandenhove draws on sound and visual polysemy, questioning the role of our senses and imagination in the perception of the environment. Lately she has been exploring this process, playing with superpositions and interweaving between the human, animal and technological worlds. She is also interested in collective myths and personal beliefs on the borderline between fiction and reality. Vandenhove’s artistic practice often relies on field recording, as well as on a collaborative and social approach to artistic creation. She co-authored the installation Héritage Érodé at Jardins d’Étretat and was the lead artist for the sound creation.