Artificial Arcadia, integrating and contrasting the ecological tragedy


Although the Swiss landscapes are known throughout the world for their uncontaminated beauty, in reality they are supported by artificial infrastructures that have shaped these natural environments for decades: dams, tunnels, protection nets, irrigation systems, snow cannons and many other conservationist’s interventions. “Artificial Arcadia“: measured and adjustable (?) Landscapes”, is a Swiss contribution to the Prague 2019 Quadrennial, born from the collaboration between the Fragmentin art studio and KOSMOS Architects. It is a scenographic, performative landscape that is influenced by the passage of each visitor. It is structured as a ‘wood’ of metal rods, commonly used in Switzerland to map the location of a future building under construction. The bars rise and fall and, surmounted by a cover of white fabric, they evoke and redesign the snow-covered alpine landscapes. Every few minutes a new mapping takes shape. As the visitors move, the poles begin to descend slowly and a real-time projection shows the transformations in progress, detailing the millimeter variations in snowfall and the thermal mapping of the people in attendance. These different types of information combined seem to highlight, in a metaphorical way, the mostly unnoticed impact that people and infrastructures have on natural environments. The work cites the enormous white thermal blankets (that are spread out on the Rhone glacier to slow down melting as a result of rising temperatures) in a touching indirect way. Artificial Arcadia pushes climate change to the fore. It simultaneously integrates and contrasts the evidence of data with the thermal presence of the audience, visualising the, apparently unsolvable, tragedy of our times. Benedetta Sabatini


Fragmentin – Artificial Arcadia