L’Evasion des espèces
Natural History Museum of Geneva
20 October 2017 – December 2019

For the fiftieth anniversary of its Malagnou building, the Geneva Museum has chosen to invite an artist based in Geneva to contribute to its program, one which has cultivated the imaginations of generations of attendants. In a nod to Charles Darwin’s seminal work,  L’ Origine des espèces, Jérémie Gindre has proposed a project that looks at the history of emigration of certain species far from their original environments.

Starting from a question written in the lake fish showcase (“Where did they come from?”), Jérémie Gindre refers to numerous cases of animals that have settled down in a new environment, whether by accident, nature or force: mustangs in North America, rabbits in the Kerguelen Islands, parakeets in Brussels, the Zebra Mussel in St. Lawrence or the Royal Crab on the Norwegian coast. The project also evokes the spirit of migrations for which man is not responsible, but which preserves their capacity to amaze: coconuts and plants scattered on the other ends of the world by birds.

What he calls these “escapes” – because they evoke in our imagination a freedom taken up by the animal, or an opportunity seized by the plant – are very often linked to romantic stories: the starlings introduced in Central Park by a Shakespeare fan, the Mediterranean seabed threatened by the killer algae escaped from the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, etc…all these cases prompted the artist to approach the project through the historical side of natural history, to draw the diorama towards the narrative rather than mere reconstruction.

L’Évasion des espèces proposes to depart from the principle of diorama as an open window on a stage frozen in time, instead setting up a narrative thread between the windows. Each series can thus be considered a comic strip that tells of one of these escapes.

Installation views of the exhibition. Photographs by Philippe Wagneur