About the Artist

Laurent Tixador (1965) is a DIY artist par excellence. He prefers to work with what his immediate surroundings offer him and processes this in as simple a way as possible. He has become known for his performances, in which he challenges himself in extreme situations, such as survival missions to Greenland and Siberia. He frequently retires to a forest or other remote areas far away from the company of people, where he has to fend for himself. Nomadism and zero footprint are the principles of Tixador’s exploration of new situations to create new work.

About the Search Question

For the Department of Search, Tixador has made a proposal that consists of two parts: ‘Nature helps man to take root’ and ‘Man helps nature to take root’. It is a search for mutual dependence between the people and nature at the Utrecht Science Park, which calls for sustainable collaboration of at least 50 years. The first installation focuses on creating a space where nature helps people to take root. The second installation makes it possible for people to make nature grow in inhospitable locations. Tixador inspiration for Nature Helps Man Take Root is from a building on campus called the Unnik Gebouw, a grand engineering experiment in the 1950’s where the top floor is built first on the ground and jacked upwards. Nature helps Man to take Root consists of a simple tree house and tower construction. Tixador attaches at certain heights a plate between and to several trees. As the trees grow, the platform will get stuck between the trees. After several years a tree tower of four to five floors will be secured. The artist will test the construction of these tree towers in the forest at the edge of the Utrecht Science Park nudged beside a very busy city motorway. Tixador got to know this forest via a group of biology students wanting to lay out a Campus food forest. The tree tower can help these and other initiatives to start the long term securing of the forest. Tixador will work on the tree tower with students and make camp. At this camp they will experience what it means to be dependent on the immediate surroundings. Over time, and if man allows, the towers will become a new structure of partnership between the efforts of nature with man.

In the second installation, Man helps Nature to take Root, it is human intervention that makes nature possible. Tixador with the Glass Lab of the Utrecht Science Park uses a glass plate and concrete installation to build a self-sufficient sprinkler system. A simple use of condensation allows the regular watering of a piece of inhospitable ground. Little by little moss, grass and other plants will grow with the potential to be replaced by an eventual tree. The test is to see the care and time needed from Man to eventually let the tree destroy the original system. Set up as a test in the Botanical Gardens, the Man Helps Nature take Root will be a prototype to then install in the many central areas of the campus where sidewalks, street pavement and buildings are in abundance.

Tixador will set himself up in a Forest construction camp on campus during the month of May. You are invited to join in with him and start long term Man and Nature partnerships.



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Department of Search

The initiative of the Department of Search was taken by the Aardschap Foundation and the municipality of Utrecht in collaboration with the Utrecht Science Park Foundation and Universitity Utrecht. The Zero Footprint Campus programme is also made possible by The Art of Impact, Mondriaan Fonds, provincie Utrecht, K.F. Hein Fonds, Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds and Stichting Doen.


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