Defined in the 18th century as “the most useful, the most widespread and perhaps the most essential of all the arts”1 agriculture animates Hélène Bertin’s current practice, dialoguing with and extending her past works and research. Hélène Bertin and the artist and future-winegrower César Chevalier, who she has invited to collaborate with her on this project, have jointly created part of the exhibition. Here, they play the role of two mediators amongst a larger group who aim to pass on knowledge, skills, and respect for vinicultural practices.
The first part of the exhibition unfolds a narrative within a horticultural architecture where nourishing plants are cultivated with handmade tools and visitors become pollinators of this installation. As much a researcher and historian as a sculptor, Hélène Bertin brings together the tools of a forest gardener, a 19th century greenhouse, and a collection of plant diagrams still used in university – level botanical teaching. These enlarged flowers are intermingled with imaginary fruits made of porcelain “matured” in a wood-fired noborigama kiln that invade the greenhouse like climbing plants. The greenhouse, which belongs to a market gardener who lives next door to the artist, will later play host to cultural events and moments of sharing around the living world.
“Couper le vent en trois” [To cut the wind in three] is an exhibition that gives free reign to joyous experimentation, collective work and the unique sensitivity that arises from the porous domains of art, horticulture and viniculture. Its title based on a long obsolete expression, suggests a bold and magical gesture much like those at the origin of the project and others that will extend it into the future.
The second part of the exhibition consists of the most recent step of an ongoing project begun by Hélène Bertin and César Chevalier a number of years ago. Together, the duo have immersed themselves in all stages of the winemaking process, exchanging with professionals and amateurs around the links between earth, taste, micro-organisms, and ways of working with time and with different environments.
The installation presented here is a stage in the duo’s journey, and brings together the fruit of their winemaking, sculpted tools, and stories of harvest or inebriation. The artists assemble processes and forms that honour the invisible labour of yeast as well as the polyphony of agricultural knowledges and the beliefs that have sprung up around them. Alongside this exhibition, they are also publishing the book Jacques Néauport, le dilettante, in partnership with the magazine LeRouge&leBlanc, which
seeks to share the knowledge and thoughts of one of the leading figures in the field of natural wine.