Through her whimsical interventions, French artist Estelle Chrétien draws attention to the natural landscape. Whether “sewing” up a fissure in a lawn or placing a property tag on a rolling hill, Chrétien uses this land art to make viewers think about how we use nature and what function it has in our lives.
Chrétien's collaboration with artist Miguel Costa, Les pieds au sec, is a look at the fundamental role that trees play in maintaining the environment. Their roots not only prevent soil erosion but also help filter sediment and improve water quality. The clay boot fitted to the base of the tree mimics what's happening below the surface, with Chrétien calling these trees “giants that work the Earth.”
Other pieces, like Dessous, take inspiration from the context in which they were created. For this clever installation, created during an artist residency at the Collectif des Possibles in France, the artist outfits a double-trunked tree with a pair of floral underpants. This humorous decision actually relates back to the residency's location in a former textile factory. In fact, the fabric for the underpants was actually produced there.
With Propriété, Chrétien makes a simple, effective statement about land ownership. By placing a painted door and metal ring on a hillside, she transforms these materials into an ownership tag. The purpose all goes back to a fundamental question that she poses. “This land is private but what about the landscape?”
All of her installations, which are ephemeral and disassembled after a few months, embrace nature as an extension of our world. For her, “everything is mixed, that we are part of it, nothing is external, there are no borders even if we put them everywhere.” While she feels that art is more responsive to changes than causing change in the world, she hopes that these installations can bring joy to those who see them.