Gardens Without Walls is an online platform dedicated to presenting performative encounters devised in the context of the Grantham Foundation for the Arts and the Environment. Deep in the woods of Saint-Edmond-de-Grantham, surrounded by maple trees and ferns, each artist is invited to explore how their practice responds to environmental issues with a particular attention to care, hospitality, and an attentive listening between living beings and their natural surroundings. The artists are also encouraged to pursue new facets of their practice by experimenting across the mediums of performance and film. Conceived by Ji-Yoon Han for the Foundation, this project responds to the COVID-19 pandemic context and the increased eco-anxiety felt by young generations with an intention to reach out and imagine new ways of supporting artists and engaging with our local ecosystems.

In this first edition of Gardens Without Walls, co-curated by Ji-Yoon Han and Didier Morelli, five artists (Rachel Echenberg, Cynthia G.Renard, arkadi lavoie lachapelle, Pascale Théorêt-Groulx, Eve Tagny) were invited to hold one-week residencies at the Foundation over the course of two months in January and February of 2023. At the end of each period of immersion, the artists were joined by a film crew led by Bogdan Stoica for one day of filming. The resulting five films are standalone works that seek to capture the essence of an experience, relating something singular about the act of inhabiting the built and natural site of the Grantham Foundation. Each of the resulting works are unique and distinct, a testament to the variety of practices and the infinite potential drawn from such a wonderous environment. Connected to each other by their common site and desires to expand the definitions of eco-consciousness, the films also speak to each other through their experimental nature. For most of these artists, this was the first time working with a professional film setup, providing an unparalleled opportunity to move from the directness of video to film, from simple action to full-fledged cinematic narrative. This first iteration of Gardens Without Walls is a call for more interdisciplinary collaborations, for different and inclusive perspectives in environmental protection, for broader possibilities for art and the environment to cohabitate.

This project is realized with the support of the Digital Now innovation initiative by the Canada Council for the Arts. The Grantham Foundation would also like to thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) and the MRC de Drummondville for their ongoing support.