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Le jardin des Hespérides
Andy Cao’s garden draws on the sounds, scents, and materials of Vietnam, his country of origin, while in its own way evoking the riverine landscape of the St. Lawrence. Paths of stark white exotic seashells wind through a carpet of locally collected dark green algae. Tall, wispy vetiver grasses dotted with wild irises create a delicate counterpoint to the algae. As one walks through the garden, the living floor occasionally peels off the ground revealing the roots of the aromatic vetiver and the iris. In the centre of the garden a red silk lantern looms oversized but weightless in a reflecting pond out of which an orange grove mysteriously rises. The lantern, fabricated according to traditional construction techniques and sewn by villagers in Vietnam, invites entry.
Upon entering the lantern, visitors discover a unique fragrance, developed especially for this garden, that conjures up memories of walks on the beach, the smell of the ocean, the zest of seaweed crushed underfoot, and for Cao, the timeless images of incense clouds in a temple by the sea.
While memory is the starting point for this sensual olfactory garden, it is the physicality of the experience, and its delicate, multi-layered resonances that seduce the visitor.
Architect: Andy Cao et Xavier Perrot
Years of exhibition: 2006, 2007