Hackney Marshes project


We are plants, we are grass, we are Hackney Marshes is an immersive audio-visual installation that takes you on a journey of being landscape through the embodied eyes of filmmaker Dominique Rivoal and the sensing body of movement artist Claire Loussouarn. It invites to slow down and attune our sensate bodies and felt sense to the incredible spectacle of nature that we constantly miss out on an everyday basis.

Hackney Marshes is the largest common land in London and has never been built upon. It is a wild oasis within urbanness which disrupts romantic portrayals of nature as separate and clean from modernity. Through Claire’s attuned movement and Dominique’s embodied framing, nature is de-glamourised and experienced directly with the senses and close to the bones shining its bleakness and immediacy with potency.

For the last five years since September 2018, the artists have been moving and filming in a specific spot of uncut grass behind the Lee Valley ice ring centre where a diversity of wild plants grow. They return every month experiencing seasonal and weather change, the life cycle of plants, park rangers’ maintenance cut back of plant friends, the ice ring demolition and re-construction, birds and planes flying by, seasonal foragers, human passers-by and their canine companions.

Claire moves spontaneously with the environment of Hackney Marshes often finding herself entangled and in relationship with the plants growing there. She never knows what her next step will be as she lets herself be moved by the landscape. Dominique relates with her camera attuning to Claire’s movement, her own internal landscape and the space equally. She holds the camera in her hands and often doesn’t look through the viewfinder trusting her animal body to find its own footing. Together they blur the separation between object and subject on screen.

The four screens, their 360 placement in a square shape and the spatial soundscape aims to recreate the three dimensionality of this heightened state of awareness in landscape that both artists experience in each monthly encounter.

The artists never planned to film for five years. Over time, their commitment to this tiny spot of land and process of returning has organically grown creating an affinity between humans and non-humans and dissipating clear distinctions between the two. As they get more intimate with the space and the work, the relationship deepens. Seasons repeat themselves with gifts of surprises and each new cycle brings fresh excitement. There is always more to see and be amazed about: ‘The mugwort plants are so tall this year, they’ve turned into a forest! What will it be like next year?’ Hackney Marshes keep calling them in so they keep coming back.

In its first iteration the installation presents two years of monthly recordings from March 2021 to February 2023.


In the heart of the capital, Hackney Marshes are an oasis of country fields which have been spared from development as a common land. The field behind the Lee Valley Ice Centre is a shelter for so-called weeds, dandelion, nettle, mugwort, plantain, cleavers, cow parsley, yarrow, and many others, which happily thrive and cohabit in the patches of unmown grass. This is where we found our habitat, in the most fervent weed jungle and uneven ground to the feet, mostly avoided by by-passers unless they intentionally want to hide and laze around among the high grass on a sunny day. Claire rooted her movement practice in this spot in 2017 and saw it grow and blossom when they started to collaborate with Dominique in 2018. Each month of the year and throughout the seasons they meet. Claire moves. Dominique resonates. The accompanying film is a first glimpse into the accumulated (and still being filmed) material which is currently being shaped into a four screen installation.

The film is intentionally slowing down the act of vision in order to invite the viewer to appreciate what is missed by fast-forwarding in editing. Repetition encourages paying attention and getting lost in the screen: what looks the same is never quite the same and differences become noticeable through correlation. The film could start from any shot as it is meant to be played on loop to further emphasise the cycle of seasons.

An embodied way of filming is prioritised. Dominique’s body behind the camera is intentionally not hidden but kept present through its tiny movements, unexpected responses, or lengthy focus adjustments, what could be seen as ‘mistakes.’ The frame of Dominique’s body is breathing through the camera’s frame as she is tuning and responding to Claire’s movement, herself tuning and responding to the space.

Through Dominique’s eyes, Claire’s body on screen becomes a plant among other plants. It endures the inevitable cycle of the seasons and the whims of the weather. Each episode is a small window on its growth and decline and their variations in between from gestation through unpredictable outbursts to full dropping. Her moving body invites the viewer to notice how their own body is also entangled with their immediate environment: it is only a matter of receiving what is already there.

Through slowing down, repetition, embodied filming and ecological movement, the film aims to re-awaken a dormant kinesthetic knowing and relating to ecological aliveness in and around us. It does so by encouraging a kinesthetic way of watching where the whole body, not just the eyes (Loussouarn, 2021), is invited to nurture a state of receiving. The spaciousness of the film allows the viewer to attune to the subtle and ongoing unravelling of time within the microcosm of this urban wild field in Hackney Marshes. By focusing our kinesthetic attention through a frame it extends our ecological awareness beyond the film.


Selected as part of Kinesthesia moving image and exhibited on 17-18 July 2021


The Hackney marshes project started in 2018 and is still ongoing.

We are currently working on a four screens installation with 360 sound.