Artists around the world collaborate with Mother Nature in a range of unique creations featuring one of the most vital creatures on Earth – the honeybee.
Leave it to the contemporary artists of the world to transform bees into a form of artistic expression, a statement on life, of humanity’s relationship with nature. It is in part the sensitivity of the bees’ place on Earth currently, as numbers continue to drop worldwide, as well as the artistic merit of the honeycomb and wax itself that has attracted artists to this medium.
This collaboration between human and nature is perhaps one of the finest examples of experimental art, as the final product rests not only in human hands but on the whims of these industrious little muses as well.
AGANETHA DYCK, THE POWER OF THE SMALL
Canadian artist, Aganetha Dyck has been working with bees for years, creating delicate sculptures using porcelain figurines, shoes, sports equipment and other objects placed in specially designed apiaries. The objects are gradually transformed over time as the bees weave their honeycomb around them.
“This raises ideas about our shared vulnerability, while at the same time elevating the ordinariness of our humanity.”
“They remind us that we and our constructions are temporary in relation to the lifespan of Earth and the processes of nature,” curator, Cathi Charles Wherry said. “This raises ideas about our shared vulnerability, while at the same time elevating the ordinariness of our humanity.”
PROPELLED BY AN INTEREST IN INTER-SPECIES COMMUNICATION and “the power of the small”, Dyck hoped to expose humanity’s ignorance of our connection to bees and nature and to highlight the effects of honeybees disappearing from Earth.
PIERRE HUYGHE, HIVE MENTALITY
For artist Pierre Huyghe from France, it is the relationship between humans and bees, their interactions and parallels that interests him and that he explores in his work, Untilled (Liegender Frauenakt).
“ Representing the collective thought processes of bees.”
Displayed in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York last year, the piece featured a reclining female nude. Huyghe replaced the figure’s with a beehive inhabited by a colony of Italian honeybees (chosen for their docility), representing the brain and the bees’ so-called hive mentality, their collective thought processes.
“Yoko Ono has even stopped by to greet them.”
During the exhibition, beekeeper Andrew Coté, a local beekeeper visited the hive twice daily, to care for and monitor the little residents. “Few beehives can boast to being in such good company,” said Andrew. “Works by Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso... Yoko Ono has even stopped by to greet them.” After the show, the bees were moved to Coté’s farm.
REN RI, THE ART OF COLLABORATION
BEIJING-BASED ARTIST AND BEEKEEPER, Ren Ri merges his two while crafts, exploring the relationship between man and nature and its different manifestations, whether constructive or destructive.
In his piece, Yuansu II, a series of beeswax sculptures is created by bees embedded in transparent plastic polyhedrons sculptures. The queen bee sits at the centre of each sculpture, while the worker bees build around her.
“I wanted to try to eliminate the subjectivity of the artist and the mediation of bees served this purpose.”
Every seven days, Ren Ri rotates the box, determining it by a throw of dice. This changes the gravity of the honeycomb, affecting the final product. “I wanted to try to eliminate the subjectivity of the artist and the mediation of bees served this purpose,” Ren Ri said in an interview with CoolHunting.
REN RI IS ONE ARTIST WHO TRULY DOES WHAT IT TAKES FOR THE SAKE OF HIS ART, getting up close and personal with his little collaborators and enduring more stings than the average beekeeper cares for.
TOMÁS LIBERTÍNY, DESIGNED BY MAN, BUILT BY BEE
As part of a project entitled “Made By Bees”, artist Tomás Libertíny of Slovakia invited bees to help create several works. He started it as an experiment in the manipulation of nature, to explore the creative potential of sculptures designed by man, but constructed by a swarm of bees.
“To explore the creative potential of sculptures designed by man, but constructed by a swarm of bees.”
WHAT RESULTED WERE SEVERAL BEESWAX ARTEFACTS, now displayed in the art collections of establishments around the world. Well-known pieces include The Honeycomb Vase (2007) and The Unbearable Lightness (2010), a figure over which 40,000 bees built a beeswax body, coloured red because of the dye Libertíny introduced into the food he provided them with.
For The Agreement (2012), a 1,6 metre-tall installation on the lawn of the Natural History Museum in London, Libertíny placed a structure inside a glass tower and again attracted bees on the basis of a “mutual agreement“ he said, to build their honeycomb around a new flower... to make their honey of?