The Antarctic Gardener

An androgynous scientist lives confined to the ice of Antarctica, taking care of a closed artificial ecosystem for space colonization. Virtual relationships, artificial suns, and nutrients dissolved in the air are the core of a crystallised world pervaded by the emotional temperature of extreme isolation.
In the astonishing but hostile frozen desert, the antarctic gardener follow a strict routine to endure solitude. Their only companions are plants, growing enclosed in an uninterrupted artificial cycle, regardless of weather and seasons.

The film is a creative documentary mixing archive footage of the EDEN ISS project with fiction. EDEN ISS is a test facility for plant cultivation in extreme environments at the Neumayer-Station III, Antarctica (AWI, DLR). Since 2017, it has been tested as a modular unit that could be attached to the International Space Station or to a possible colony on the moon.

"The Antarctic Gardener" blurs the boundaries between reality and fiction, delving into a future that already feels present, reminiscent of science fiction narratives.Inspired by research on Bio-regenerative Life Support Systems (BLSS) and the global pandemic of covid19, it digs into questions such as: if human life became possible only in the interior of closed artificial environments, what would our existence be? What future are we looking for?

  • Marianna Peruzzo
    Set and Costume Desing
  • Alberto Cagol
  • Nicola Sanguin
  • Elisa Strinna
  • Elisa Strinna
  • Elisa Strinna
  • Elisa Strinna
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Other
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    24 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    December 10, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    25,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • IFFR, International Film Festival Rotterdam
    January 27, 2023
    Dutch Premier
  • New Harvest I, Eye Filmmuseum
    June 2, 2023
Director Biography - Elisa Strinna

Elisa Strinna (b. 1982, Padua) is an Italian multimedia artist and director working between Italy and the Netherlands. Her work has been exhibited at IFFR, Rotterdam (NL)(2023), Radius CCA, Delft (NL)(2022), documenta fifteen (DE)(2022), Tale of A Tub (NL)(2021), Culturgest Porto (PT)(2020), Fidelidade Arte (PT)(2019), Hong-gah Museum (TW)(2018), Serra dei Giardini of the Venice Biennale (IT)(2015), MART Museum (IT)(2015), MAXXI Museum (IT)(2014), EACC Museum (SP)(2013), Taipei Biennial (TW)(2012), MACRO Museum (IT)(2011), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (IT)(2021) amongst others. In 2018, Elisa Strinna was selected for the international residency program at Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht.

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Director Statement

Elisa Strinna's work explores the relationship between modern infrastructures and the Earth's ecosystem, reflecting upon the urgent environmental concerns of our times.
Through her short films and video works, she transports viewers to inaccessible territories. One of her earlier works, "The Upwelling" (2019), immerses us in the underwater world of the Sicily Strait, where fiber optic cables coexist with the stories of African migrants. In her most recent piece, "Withered Season Flowers" (2021), she takes us to an abandoned artificial ecosystem in Liguria, a greenhouse colonized by vegetation and impacted by harsh climatic conditions. Finally, in the creative documentary "The Antarctic Gardener," we are brought to an extreme environment such as Antarctica, witnessing an experience of intense isolation of humans and plants.
These films are part of larger research projects and are often accompanied by extensive environmental installations. These spaces can be described as cosmological fantasies created to enhance tentacular thinking. Here the complex and often invisible relationship between diverse beings, stories, and territories is manifested and materialized through various forms and materials.