Bonsai as a way to impose culture on nature

Bonsai is the old Japanese art of growing miniature versions of trees and other plants. The point is that these miniature versions capture the 'essence' of the real life versions. They have to look 'larger' than life, while at the same time being smaller. Of course there is not much 'natural' in the way these plants are treated. To keep them small they are 'trained', which is really a euphemism for torturing by tying them in copper wires and pruning them.

Near the town of Biot in the south of France at the cote d'Azur, a museum has a wide array of Bonsai's on display. The picture shows a few of these, while at the same time playing further with notions of artificialness, as they are clearly on display but also seem to grow out of the grass. Pictures taken in July 2003.

Click repeatedly on the picture to enlarge.

Bonsai small

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