Karine Bonneval: Vertimus: We Are Turning Around, Upside Down, We Are Changing, We Are Switching

Woman in a colorful shawl listening into a dark sculpture piece with an abstract yellow dotted design behind her.

Installation view of Comme un frisson assoupi (2018), Micro Onde Art Center, Paris. photo / Joël Prince

Karine Bonneval, born in 1970 in La Rochelle, France, attended the Angoulême Fine Art School and Strasbourg School of Decorative Arts.

Fascinated by vernacular processes, which have for ages allowed humans to express their relationship with the surrounding world, Bonneval develops a vocabulary born of the "hand-made" in order to produce pieces around our contemporary social behaviors. She uses body prostheses, fetishes, and short movies to create universes, which though separate, are never too far from our own.

Bonneval's first encounter with the Guyanese forest in 2000 was a decisive shock for her artistic research. Her entry into a "living whole" enabled her to experience shared sensitivities with a complex and vibrant ecosystem. Since 2014, she has worked in collaboration with different teams of biologists to jointly develop projects that combine research and sensitive creation around plants and their environments.

Bonneval's current work seeks ways for regaining empathy for the nonhuman and focuses on plant otherness as well as the complex and specific interactions that link humans and plants. With her organic pieces, she explores possible links between the vernacular and the technological — though behind the sparkling, material charm of her work there is an animal energy accented with dark irony.


Bonneval will present her collaborative projects across art and science around the topic of trees. She will discuss Dendromacy, a series of workshops, installations, and films developed with teams of ecophysiologists that considers tree intimacies and rethinking trees; Listen to the Earth, a collaboration with fungi specialists, microbiologists, bioacousticians, and soil scientists from Paris, Berlin, and Ithaca that is based on recent research on linkages between sound, soil, plant root behavior, and fungi; and Vertimus, or, how to move with plants, a collaborative project with Eric Badel and Bruno Moulia from PIAF, INRA Lab in Clermont Ferrand, France.

Cosponsored by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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