Le Jardin des Prodiges Portables, Une Procession,
Urban portable gardens, Lausanne
(2013)

The proposal for Lausanne Jardins 2014 is halfway between Safavid dynasty paradises and Semana Santa procesiones. It consists of a series of portable temples: otherworldly paradises docked during the week at the Terrace Petit Chêne, on top of a soft, luscious rug that is a window onto a world of transmogrified flora. Each Sunday morning though, after mass, they are ritualistically moved to different locations around the city. The temples form a collection of packaged paradises of mini-grottoes, micro-greenhouses or oversized plant pots that are either pocket-sized, beefed-up, militarised or hyper versions of their original self. Each week, the ritual procession of vehicles carrying this Garden of Wonders moves through the city to meet you. At the head of the procession is Saturnae (who wakes up early in the morning). He is a machine-carved Juggernaut temple for a panzai (a medium-size Chinese bonsai), balancing on heavy wooden wheels made of a lathe of timber slats. Thick mooring ropes are tied to the base for pulling – traction is provided by a long tandem bike pedalled by seven new friends, all devotees of nature.
Next you will meet Princess Divine, the warming mother, a small house covered with alpine timber shutters, with slats of alternating colour. Behind the shutters are air-conditioning units that simulate an altitude of approximately 2,000m. The units are connected to three Wardian cases – or you might say small reliquaries – for admiring Edelweiss flowers.
Further along, tThe Grandmother is a cornucopia that lives in the centre of a canopy temple overflowing with rare plants – a large fibreglass horn constantly expelling seeds to pollinate the tarmac, its edges lined like a Macarena with tall candlestick vases. Its thin aluminium frame is hung with fabric tassels and sewn accoutrements that propel it into religious piety.
The Ogre is a devilish stone face – seemingly plucked from the entrance to a grotto at Bomarzo – that endlessly regurgitates liquid chocolate in a moment of loud screaming. Slick Boeing 747 wheels prop up the ghastly face as thick mooring ropes are tied to the base for pulling.
And then there is the Flower-windows of Jaipur, with folding facades of wide bellowing flutes, punctured with tiny holes that are both windows and plant-holders. The temple has a fake stone plinth to which four pennyfarthing wheels are attached. A stagecoach for floral regalia.
After the Ten Wonders have floated around the city, each returns to Terrace Petit Chêne to rest on the soft, luscious rug – the window onto the world – and await the next time they will be taken out by the people of Lausanne.