Justine Blau

Guided tours of the “Veil of Nature” take place every week

In response to the current environmental crisis, the exhibition “Veil of Nature” by Luxembourgish artist Justine Blau, curated by Fanny Weinquin, explores, through works navigating between documentation, illusion and narration, man’s relationship with nature and conservation practices. Guided tours of the exhibition “Veil of Nature” will take place every Saturday from June 22nd to July 20th and on the last day of the exhibition, July 28th.

Launched at the University of Tartu Botanical Garden on June 15th, the exhibition reflects the role of the botanical garden as a place of conservation and research, initiating an unusual dialogue between art and science. The starting point of this project was Justine Blau’s discovery of the Sicyos villosus, a now-extinct species of the gourd family, which Charles Darwin collected during his expedition on the Beagle in the 1830s. When Blau read that scientists hoped to recreate the plant using biotechnology and the herbarium specimen’s DNA, she explored what it meant to “bring species back to life”.

Photographs, videos, and sculptures stay alongside the plant realm, challenging it with their presence while blending into the environment. “The artworks question our perception of reality and feature different strategies established by men to overcome the limited temporality of human life in times of environmental crises”, said Fanny Weinquin, the exhibition’s curator.

Exhibition curator Fanny Weinquin will lead the curatorial tours in English, and artist and art teacher Eva Labotkin will lead guided tours in Estonian. On Wednesday, July 10th, from 11:00 AM to 12:15 PM, a soap bubbles workshop for children aged 6-11 related to the exhibition will be held.

Guided tours and curatorial visits take place on:

  • Saturday, June 22nd, Eva Labotkin, guided tour in Estonian, 11:00-12:00;
  • Saturday, June 29th, Eva Labotkin, guided tour in Estonian, 11:00-12:00;
  • Saturday, July 6th, Fanny Weinquin, curatorial tour in English, 11:00-12:00;
  • Saturday, July 13th, Eva Labotkin, guided tour in Estonian, 11:00-12:00;
  • Saturday, July 20th, Eva Labotkin, guided tour in Estonian, 11:00-12:00;
  • Sunday, July 28th, Fanny Weinquin, curatorial tour in English, 14:00-15:00.

“During the curatorial tour, I will give an insight into the conceptualization and preparation process of the exhibition. Starting from the gallery to the greenhouses, I will guide the visitors through the organic walk as we have imagined it. It was not easy to create a well-balanced interaction with the botanical garden, so powerful is the vigorous plant kingdom that inhabits the place”, Weinquin explained.

The show examines some nature-culture interplays and dilemmas with works involving magic tricks, preserved soap bubbles and compositions grown from salt crystals. The artist visited several herbaria and seed banks in Europe for the exhibition and reflected on her experiences during the exhibition making. Visitors can read real and fictional descriptions from the Galápagos Islands, where Darwin partly sketched out his theory of evolution. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to reflect on the roots of natural history, science as a practice, an outlook on the world, and concerns about biodiversity and extinction.

The exhibition “Veil of Nature” is part of the Arts of Survival Creative Nature Festival and belongs to the main programme of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024. It is open at the University of Tartu Botanical Garden from June 15th to July 28th. The exhibition can be visited during the opening hours of the Botanical Garden every day from 10:00 to 17:00. A greenhouse ticket is required to visit the exhibition and participate in the guided tour.

The exhibition is supported by Kultur | lx - Luxembourg Arts Council, the Ministry of Culture/Luxembourg Government, the City of Tartu, and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.

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