Maison Ruinart, which will celebrate its 300th anniversary in 2029, continues to affirm its strong commitment to biodiversity. For several years, the Maison has called on contemporary artists whose distinctive approach to nature and embrace of environmental issues resonate with its vision of the world. These encounters between nature and art spotlight sustainable viticulture in Champagne. For 2022, land art pioneer NILS-UDO has created a work called HABITATS in Ruinart’s Taissy vineyard.
Each year until 2029 a new work of art will be created in the heart of the Champagne Maison’s ancestral terroir, enriching a symbolic heritage. The HABITATS project spotlights an historic Ruinart plot of land. Three HABITATS will be created in Taissy to encourage the vineyard’s biodiversity while providing shelter for local fauna. NILS-UDO has used vines and shoots which Ruinart teams have removed from the vineyard to fragment the large single plots and recreate islets with hedges.
Solidly anchored in the earth, the sculptural HABITATS do not contain any nails or metal fixations. All the materials are borrowed from nature, and the installation interacts with the environment. The weather, natural erosion and the presence of animals and insects are all integral to the work, which becomes an artistic ecosystem. Visible from the road that runs alongside the vineyard, HABITATS also engages a dialogue with those who might pass through the landscape without really seeing it. Standing tall in the middle of the vineyard, the wood and vine branch sculptures prompt visitors to reflect on the importance and wealth of biodiversity.
Crowned with nests and vine shoots, the installation is a gift to nature, inviting birds, bees, caterpillars, butterflies and ladybugs to find shelter. “My work is a means of opening our eyes to the nature around us,” says NILS-UDO. “I don’t have preconceived ideas, I react to the new vegetation or topographies I discover. Natural phenomena attract and inspire me.”
This project is part of Maison Ruinart’s broader commitment to promoting biodiversity at the Taissy vineyard on the Montagne de Reims. Covering 40 hectares, the historic vineyard figures at the heart of a pilot vitiforestry project that applies agroforestry practices, encompassing trees, vines and animals across the site. Since 2021 more than 12,000 trees and shrubs have been planted, primarily local species. Essential to the diversification and revitalization of the local ecosystem, this ambitious project is being carried out with expertise from Reforest’action and Naturagora. It aims to restore the natural harmony as it may well have existed some three generations ago.
With HABITATS, the artist celebrates things that live, grow and die, drawing solely on the nature that surrounds him, working to the rhythm of the seasons. “Ruinart’s history is rooted in the Age of Enlightenment during which it was founded. We have a longstanding passion for art, which conveys an enlightened vision of the world and, in particular, the connection between people and nature,” notes Frédéric Dufour, President of Ruinart.
These relationships take on myriad forms with HABITATS as NILS-UDO continually experiments in his work, exploring the temporalities and transformations of living things, which he captures in photographs. HABITATS will thus be immortalized through a series of images produced by the artist, capturing different moments through the seasons and cycles of the vine, from winter sleep, to the first flowers, all the way to the ripening of the grapes.