Gardening as a Subversive Act

Artists Armed with Spades

Gardens have long provided mourishment for the body and soul. They have inspired poetry and reverie. It is only in the contemporary world that gardens have become centers of radical resistance. For that reason, many contemporary artists have diverted their studio practices to the garden.


The cultural dissidence of the gardener far exceeds the production of food. Gardening is a subversive act because it counters multiple norms that define contemporary lifestyles:


– tending resources instead of utilzing and exploiting them;


– cooperating with multiple forms of life, including insects, fungus, and bacteria;


– defying digital abstractions by engaging multiple senses;


– escaping from global dependences through self-sustaining activities;


– receiving immediate rewards for effort instead of monetary payment


– replacing the personal and the local for the anonymous and the global


– utifying aspects of life typically connected only by money.


Gardens are autonomous zones, exempt from municipal ordinances, rules of law, authority of government, and control of corporations. They are also zones of significant contemporary art practices.

See Nicole Fournier