Falling Garden (Giardino calante)
Mixed Media Installation
Artists: Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger
Location: San Staë church on the Canale Grande
Occasion: 50th Biennial of Venice, 2003
I wonder how it feels to first walk into this enormous art installation.
Does it look like a fertile rain created by fairies?
Perhaps it’s like an enormous bouquet sprinkled from the heavens and suspended at a moment in time…
San Staë is reported to have great acoustics, and visitors must remove their shoes upon entry.6
I wonder if there’s a soft rustling among the vines and flowers, like the whispering of angels.
The legend of San Staë is that of a Roman General who saw a vision of Christ between a stag’s antlers.
That general became San Eustachio (St. Eustace), now known as San Staë.6
The artists built this garden for the stag, as told in this legend from their website (translated from German):
The Doge (Mocenigo) needed a church so as to be able to have a monumental tomb built for himself,
the church (San Staë) needed a saint so as to be able to be built,
the saint (San Eustachio) needed a miracle so as to be pronounced a saint,
the miracle needed a stag in order to be seen, and we built the garden for the reindeer.
The visitors lie on the bed above the doge’s gravestone, and the garden thinks for them.1
Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger create site-specific fantasias and interactive wonderlands which are an adaptation of nature. The two of them have collaborated since 1997 and it comes as no surprise that they are among the most successful contemporary Swiss artists. Their work is truly mesmerizing, extravagant, and full of fantasy, allegory and sheer beauty. The pair often deals with the paradox and contradiction through their
work – good and evil, life and death, hope and despair.3
Plastic berries (India), cow pads (Jura), waste paper (Venice), baobab seeds (Australia), beech, elder and magnolia branches (Uster), thorns (Almeria), nylon blossoms (one-dollar-shop), pigs’ teeth (Indonesia), seaweed (Seoul), orange peel (Migros shop), fertilizer crystals (home grown), pigeons’ bones (San Staë), silk buds (Stockholm), cattail (Ettiswil), cats’ tails (China), celery roots (Montreal), virility rind (Caribbean), wild bore quills (zoo), banana leaves (Murten), rubber snakes (Cincinnati)…1
The book Stupid and Good Miracles by Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger was published on the occasion of the exhibition:
Other works by the artists: