Environmental History III

Le Magasin Électrique
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For this third edition, LUMA Arles is bringing together researchers, artists and landscape architects to work on a historical approach to ecology.

Friday, May 24 to Sunday, May 26, 2024
Theme: Far From the Garden
Place: Le Magasin Électrique

Environmental history investigates the interactions between humans and the “natural world,” focusing on how non-human entities and multispecies ecologies can transform the understanding of agency in historic and current narratives. 

Starting from the premise that industrial societies have profoundly damaged landscapes and ecosystems, Far From the Garden will explore an important question: What can emerge in our damaged landscapes when the increasing impermeability of soil, global-scale urbanism and densification, and vast deforestation are existentially at odds with the idea of a garden as a designed landscape of mediation between nature and culture?

According to landscape architect Bas Smets, who transformed the industrial brownfield of the Parc des Ateliers into a vast public park, the development of gardens can be considered as a space that folds in on itself, like a hortus conclusus, a medieval walled garden. This conception of the garden as an enclosed space is in opposition to an exterior landscape that expands beyond strict boundaries.

Today, the idea of a space in extension, rather than fragmented and compartmentalized, allows us to rethink the garden and its role in contemporary society. Drawing upon diverse fields of research, the third edition of Environmental History, Far From the Garden, will explore the various entanglements between nature and culture that shape contemporary narratives and probe the potential of alternative epistemologies to challenge conventional ideas about the garden.


Free entrance (upon booking)
 All conferences are simultaneously translated (FR > EN). 


Friday, May 24, 2024

Saturday, May 25, 2024

  • From 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.: Workshop — To Be the Wind for the Tree: Generative Poetry Lab
    With Natalia Fedorova, Artist and curator

    The workshop will be based on sensors and an interface that translates the physiological parameters of a tree into four lines of minimal poetry. Participants will start by observing the trees during a walk, then they will be introduced to the Tree Talker data collection system (sap flow, accelerometer, temperature and humidity of the trunk and the soil, spectrometer) and the translation principle and will create their own lines of text. The results of the workshop will be presented in the form of a grove of generative poem-trees on the web. 

    Replay of the conference

  • 2:15 p.m.: Opening remarks
  • 2:30 p.m.: Natures of Empire: Colonial Botanical Gardens
    With Hélène Blais, PhD, Professor of Contemporary History at the École Normale Supérieure-PSL

    Replay of the conference

  • 3:15 p.m.: The Parc des Ateliers as an Experimental Garden
    Conversation with Hélène Blais, PhD, Bas Smets, Landscape architect, Professor at Harvard University, and Véronique Mure, Botanist and tropical agronomy engineer, moderated by Martin Guinard, Curator, LUMA Arles

    Replay of the conference

  • 4:00 p.m.: Break
  • 4:15 p.m.: Screening of The Labyrinth (21 min, 2018)
    In the presence of the director Laura Huertas Millán, Artist

    A voyage into the labyrinthine memories of Cristobal Gomez Abel, who worked for the drug lords in the Colombian Amazon during the 1980s. The film follows his journey through the forest and the ruins of a narco’s mansion, inspired by the Carrington mansion in the soap opera Dynasty, as it unravels the hallucinatory narrative of a near-death experience. (21 min, 2018)

  • 4:45 p.m.: History Takes Place beneath our Feet: Philosophy of Subterranean Worlds
    With Mohamed Amer Meziane, PhD, philosopher, Assistant Professor at the Center for Middle East Studies at Brown University

    Replay of the conference

  • 5:30 p.m.: Break
  • 5:45 p.m.: The (Queer) Flourishing of Ten Thousand Things
    With Xiang Zairong, PhD, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Associate Director of Art at Duke Kunshan University

    Replay of the conference 

  • 6:30 p.m.: Far From Afar
    With Hashim SarkisDean, MIT School of Architecture

    Replay of the conference

Sunday, May 26, 2024 


Alessandro Stanziani, PhD, Director of Studies at the EHESS and CNRS

Bas Smets, Landscape architect, Professor at Harvard University

Benoît Piéron, Artist

Diana Campbell, Curator

Estelle Rouquette, Curator of the Camargue Museum

Feda Wardak, Architect and independent researcher

Grégory Quenet, Professor of Environmental History, University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Senior Advisor at LUMA Arles

Hashim SarkisDean, MIT School of Architecture

Hélène Blais, PhD, Professor of Contemporary History at the École Normale Supérieure-PSL

Hélène Guenin, Director of the MAMAC Nice

Laura Huertas Millán, Artist

Leanne DmyterkoDirector and Curator of the Gustav Metzger Foundation

Maïa Hawad, Researcher, guest lecturer in Environmental Architecture at the Royal College of Art, London

Maya Lin, Environmental artist

Mohamed Amer Meziane, PhD, philosopher, Assistant Professor at the Center for Middle East Studies at Brown University

Natalia Fedorova, Artist and curator

Patrick Boucheron, PhD, Professor at the Collège de France

Pierre-Alexandre Mateos and Charles Teyssou, Curators

Raphaëlle Guidée, Literary theorist, University of Poitiers

Samir Boumediene, PhD, historian, CNRS, Institute of History of Representations and Ideas in Modernity

Tarek El-Ariss, PhD, James Wright Professor and Chair of Middle Eastern Studies at Dartmouth College

Véronique Mure, Botanist and tropical agronomy engineer

Xiang Zairong, PhD, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Associate Director of Art at Duke Kunshan University

Past editions

Environmental History symposium I
Thursday, August 25 to Friday, August 26, 2022

How do societies develop their understanding of the environment through processes of interdependency? Why is it important to analyze the past and present of our environmental thinking at this moment in time? How can we reposition the notion of non-human agents— whether these be animals, forests, soil, air, or bacteria—as key protagonists in historical processes? 

Replay of the conferences

Environmental History symposium II
From Saturday, May 27 to Sunday, May 28, 2023

For its second edition, the Environmental History symposium asked the questions: Which narratives, which poetics and which history for the Earth? These problematics will frame the different approaches to understanding fragile ecosystems, land use, and the ways in which these environments were perceived historically through poetry and prose.

Replay of the conferences


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