Nihilium, Festival de Chaumont

Location: Chaumont, France

Designer: Vladimir Sitta

Year: 1994-1995

Nihilium was a winning entry in the 1994 Festival international des jardins de Chaumont-sur-Loire competition.

A sculptural curved feature entitled the “Cornucopia Wall”.  The wall was one metre thick, bent in plan and elevation and penetrated by various elements.

On one side of the wall, tree roots emerged.  On the other, vegetation spilled out of cuts through the wooden wall - and fell toward empty pots. The expected natural order was replaced by uprooted trees that appeared to pass through the sculptural form to be reborn on the other side.

The wall was punctured by peepholes containing small Perspex containers displaying various specimens. The specimens, such as insects, appeared warped when viewed through the Perspex.
At on end, a ladder broken by a conifer and covered in duck feathers appeared to pass through the Cornucopia Wall.  The other end was blackened with bitumen.  Inside was a metronome which people could hear ticking.

Standing opposite the wall and embraced by its curvature was a single poplar.  It was bent by a tension wire, which disappeared into a pile of bones.  The ground in front of the poplar contained a waterbed rendered invisible by a covering of grass.  The experience left the visitor physically and mentally destabilised and questioning; What was living what was dead? What was visible what was invisible?