Olivier Darné

Écuries, carrière d’entraînement et prairies du centre de dressage d’Aubenhausen, appartenant à la famille Werndl.

Stables, training area and fields at the Aubenhausen dressage center, owned by the Werndl family.

Écuries, carrière d’entraînement et prairies du centre de dressage d’Aubenhausen, appartenant à la famille Werndl.

Stables, training area and fields at the Aubenhausen dressage center, owned by the Werndl family.

Écuries, carrière d’entraînement et prairies du centre de dressage d’Aubenhausen, appartenant à la famille Werndl.

Stables, training area and fields at the Aubenhausen dressage center, owned by the Werndl family.

Oslo's Honey bank

Meet this visual artist and beekeeper as he talks about his career and shares his most special place, in images and words.

Anyone wanting to leave Olivier Darné a message will hear the barely perceptible yet unmistakable buzz of a busy beehive: Darné has been a beekeeper for 20 years. Although he grew up in the city, he spent vacations on his own with his grandparents. Idleness sharpened his curiosity about creatures of all kinds, and a sense of discovery fired his enthusiasm. His vocation as an ornithologist was short-lived: he became a graphic designer, creating posters, sharing messages in public places. Darné skillfully juggled two axioms of life: never do what you know and allow ideas to take their course. Tired of his own “expertise,” he decided to change tack and spent three years reading all about bees. In 2000, as a firm believer in the “reciprocal pollination” between bees and the city, he installed his first beehives atop Saint-Denis’ city hall. The resulting “loot from the sky” was called Miel Béton. He then founded the Parti Poétique (an artists’ collective), the European-wide, associative Honey Bank project consisting of urban hives, and the Zone Sensible (a lab for research and discussion), with 60 rooftop hives, as a way of introducing art into the environment, and combining nature, culture and food. “Time is Honey.”

“The place where I feel most at home . . . is when I am surrounded by the sky and I’m lying down looking up at it. The sky has something of all the places in the world in it. It is my heterotopia, that is to say, in keeping with Foucault’s concept, that other place, the one that removes me from where I am and takes me somewhere else. Looking at it hypnotizes you and makes you forget notions of space and time, like looking at the ocean. The sky was the inspiration for my Pollinisateur urbain, a sculpture that was placed in front of Beaubourg in 2006. It was a box with an 80-cm opening at the top where 100,000 bees lived. Visitors could walk around underneath, listening simultaneously to the muted sounds of the city and the high frequency hum of the insects. They experienced a cocktail of smells, the smells of the city and the smells of the hive, with its 37°C temperature and humidity. Ethers of plants (the bees dry nectar from the flowers), propolis and honey. It’s a smell that is both vegetal and animal.”

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