Alexandra Arènes (1984, Sète) lives and works in the Paris region. Architect and researcher (University of Manchester), she co-founded SOC (www.soc.fr) in 2016, a research and production studio where surveys, public workshops, and creation of visual tools generate alternative descriptions of territories. The studio produced the installation ‘CZO space’ in close collaboration with the scientific community of the Critical Zone, at the ZKM (Museum for Art and Media in Karlsruhe) for the exhibition Critical Zones. Observatories for Earthly Politics (2020). She has also contributed to theater-research experiments (INSIDE, Back to Earth, Where to land?), And co-authored the book Terra Forma, Manuel de Cartographies Potentielles (B42, 2019).
La Cartogenèse du Territoire de Belval (2016) was exhibited at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris in 2017 in a group exhibition Animer le paysage, sur la piste des vivants, and in an installation co-produced with Sonia Levy, ‘Belval Kakosmos’. Commissioned by the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris, 2015-2016. Project carried out as part of the SPEAP master’s degree at SciencesPo. Survey conducted with Sonia Levy.
Cartogenesis offers a frame of reference and a language of signs or notations in order to present not an administrative territory where the borders and edges of the landscape prevail, but conversely the shifting and sometimes unpredictable territory of the living. A six-month ‘etho-ethnographic’ survey of the territory enabled the recording of interactions between humans and non-humans occupying this portion of the Ardennes forest. The analysis of the interviews and the observation of the practices of several key actors revealed life journeys that mingle with those of other non-human living beings, composing crossed trajectories which are traced in the map: the forest ranger, the wild boars, foxes, scientists studying forest animals, martens, GPS, the creator of the newspaper La Hulotte, teasel seeds, owls, bees and beekeepers, crows, hunters, the hydraulic network, migratory birds, ornithologist, the brother breeders, woodworms, badgers, bats, woodpeckers, deer, hunting dogs, ….
Detail of a crossed trajectory, reference on map G2-3; F2-3:
The signature-trajectory of the eco-ethologist is combined with that of the marte (small animal the size of a cat) because both present similarities / same labyrinthine territorial pattern to find their sustenance. The researcher must find funding conditional on long institutional decision chains in order to study small animals (some of which lead to dead ends); and the marte, for whom finding food consists of walking along the hedges which delimit agricultural plots which disappear due to land consolidation (the marten is an animal which moves exclusively under cover – without the hedges around agricultural fields, it is threatened ). A game of alliance is thus to be found between the farmer so that he keeps the hedges around his fields, the eco-ethologist for whom the presence of the marten is a working condition, and the marten who is the real one, mediator of these relationships between humans.
Website of the investigation:
Investigation article: 2017 – “Tracing the living, Cartogenesis of the territory of Belval”. In Sur la Piste Animale, Billebaude n ° 10. 88-93.