Ark of SeedsBetween Arts, Politics and Science

Art shelters biodiversity

Protecting bio-diversity through artistic research is the main concept of the Ark of Seeds project. It combines installation and performance with politics and scientific research. Since its foundation, the Ark of Seeds project seeks innovation in conceiving and proposing art.

What is the Ark of Seeds project?

Since 2007 visual artists Egle Oddo and Nastia Eliseeva have been working on a series of artworks that protects bio-diversity. They designed a series of installation-performances wich main action is first to preserve and then to share natural seeds from edible and non-edible species of plants, including trees, to be protected and ensured for the future of the planet.

Why the Ark of Seeds?

The project wishes to promote innovation in the Arts, to prioritize sustainable life in the cities, and to support knowledge about bio-diversity.

How does it work?

The main core of the project is a large installation resembling a plant coming to life; it hosts a sealed container with plant seeds. The sculpture opens cyclically and the seeds are distributed during a public participatory ritual. New seeds are placed inside and the installation is sealed again.

Where the seeds come from?

Every person can contribute and donate seeds from their garden.

The artists have access to bio-certified cultivated land in Europe where the natural seeds can be reproduced during all seasons in complete respect of bio-certified production for unlimited time, so that the project can be perpetual.

Which kind of art it is?

It’s difficult to find an exhisting art category for the Ark of Seeds, as new forms of artistic dialogue with Nature are arising constantly in younger generations. Seeds have their special place in artistic experimentation, and artists often employ seeds physically or conceptually to create artworks. It is nonetheless an innovative step to have a sculpture containing live seeds as a permanent public artwork, because the issues related to bio-diversity need to be put in prospective with common priorities. The Ark of Seeds is an art project to preserve bio-diversity in plants and to promote cultural diversity in society.

Is it Bio art?

Yes and no. It might share with Bio artists the concern for social and ethical impact of science in the contemporary society, and it brings awareness of our relationship with Mother Nature. The Ark of Seeds trusts Nature and try to bring such trust within the community. As Leonardo da Vinci stated “Nature is full of infinite reasons which never appeared in experience” (“La natura è piena d’infinite ragioni, che non furono mai in isperienza.”, Leonardo da Vinci, Codice I, 1492-1516, 18 r.), to recall us that Nature’s reasons are not always accessed by men’s experiences. The Ark of Seeds diverges from Bio Art because it does not investigate anatomy or biomorphism in search for new aesthetic values, does not exhibit insects or plants in boxes inside museums or galleries. The Ark of Seeds doesn’t manipulate biological elements for artistic experimentations. The focus is not studying nature as a parallel world.

Is that Land art? Or Environmental art? Is it Eco Art?

It is a bit of all that. Nature became a key element in contemporary art practices in the late 1960s, with movements such as Land Art in USA and Arte Povera in Italy. Their main goal was to use natural elements to produce art. Today, the Ark of Seeds inverts the directions and its goal is to ‘produce’ Nature through art! We like to call it Nature Art, as the main media employed here is Nature for which Art is its frame. The Ark of Seeds do not transform Nature, but preserves uncorrupted DNA for the future generations.

Where is it going to be?

The first specimen of the sculpture is going to be placed in Finland.

After the first Ark is installed in Finland, other specimen are proposed in other European regions.

Can I take part to the project? How am I involved?

The Ark of Seeds distributes alive seeds: the leafs of the sculpture open every two years and the seeds are distributed for free to any public/private individual/entity who offers to take care of them; new seeds are placed inside and the sculpture is sealed again. The opening of the sculpture during summer is the occasion for a public ceremony open to the public, with music and festivity.

The installation dialogues with the people in the sense that questions individual and collective responsibility and at the same time it motivates to take action to preserve a common patrimony.

Where are you going to produce and install it?

The sculpture will be built mostly with recycled materials and for the new parts, they will be casted as near as possible to the place of destination. Even if the logic of market would suggest to produce it where the labour costs less, each specimen will be produced locally. We want to participate to a positive feed toward a smarter economy. The process of production and distribution will be monitored in favour of sustainability.

Who supports the project?

Kone Foundation

Svenska kulturfonden

Frame Contemporary Art Finland

The Nordic Culture Point
The City of Helsinki Cultural Office

The Arts Promotion Centre Finland

Oskar Öflund Foundation
The Finnish Music Foundation

Who are the creators of the project?

Egle Oddo, visual artist, Italy
idea and conceptualisation, seed container technology, and project coordination.


Nastia Eliseeva, visual artist, Russia aesthetic research, coordination of technical elements with final form.

We collaborate with:

Johanna Fredriksson, arts manager


Timo Tuhkanen, music composer


Herkko Hietanen, technology lawyer


Marita Muukkonen, curator


Arttu Manninen, freelance programmer


Maria Stella Bottai, curator