La Forêt Dessinée

Proposal for the garden festival of Metis Canada, together with artist Iwan Smit. Theater art and garden art have for long been inextricably related. Garden-makers were also theatrical designers and vice versa. Gardens functioned as theaters and places of performance. On the theater stage an illusion of a garden or a forest was conjured up. Coulisses led the eye step by step deeper onto the stage. With this proposal we want to honour this garden – theater connection and make this garden a performative space.

A simple cardboard set model by Philip James de Loutherbourg conjures up a forest landscape using the techniques of coulisses and atmospheric perspective. The forest – in Western culture often seen as a free zone, the opposite of the city – becomes a performative space, used for ballet or opera. 

With our proposal La Forêt Dessinée we want to create such a performative space and give the visitor the choice to be a spectator or explore the stage and become part of the play. 

La Forêt Dessinée shows the visitor a graphical, playful forest landscape overlooking a bay. From the sides the construct behind this landscape illusion is revealed and the visitor can enter the stage to become a performer.

La Forêt Dessinée is built from truss beams, rented for the duration of the festival. From this construction wooden boards are suspended and fixated onto the floor. Parts of the boards are cut out to create the coulisses effect, the remaining parts are painted white and illustrated with black lines to create the forest. The garden contains only drawn plants and trees.