The Haricot Project is a multimedia installation based around the short 1962 award winning French film by Edmond Sechan, Le Haricot (The String Bean). The original film is a poignant and understated French short film directed by Edmond Séchan in 1962. The story revolves around an elderly French domestic seamstress who finds a discarded string bean plant in a trash bin outside a flower shop. She decides to rescue it and tries to nurture it in her tiny apartment, but it struggles to thrive on her windowsill.
Determined to see the plant flourish, she begins a daily ritual of taking it to the Tuileries Gardens for sunlight and water. Eventually, she even dares to transplant it into a well-tended flower bed within the park. The bean plant thrives under her care, becoming a symbol of her resilience and connection to nature.
However, when the park's staff gardeners discover the unauthorized transplant, they ruthlessly destroy the plant. Undeterred, the seamstress manages to salvage some seeds, vowing to start anew. "Le Haricot" is a moving exploration of the human desire to find beauty and purpose in unexpected places and the enduring spirit of hope, even in the face of adversity. The film captures the essence of the human-nature relationship and the resilience of the human spirit through its simple yet emotionally resonant narrative.
Our remake project will be a multi-faceted interactive installation, comprising multiple screens for visual storytelling and a multi-channel soundscape to enhance the immersive experience. A real-life garden will form the central element of the installation, intertwining nature with the film and the sound.
The following elements are currently being explored in the project:
But why? Pam Minty and Christi Denton stumbled across Le Haricot accidentally. Christi’s father-in-law had a long career as history professor and in 2021 (over a family dinner) he regaled the family with a story about a class that he had taught: Because of a faculty meeting due to take place during the course meeting hours, he’d subbed in a video that was supposed to be about apartheid. Instead, the class had watched a short movie about growing of a out-of-place string bean and attempted to analyze that in its place.
At the time, Christi (a music professor) and Pam (a film professor) had been regularly meeting both to discuss a potential non-university collaboration but also as running partners. They spent the next few runs discussing the film, its themes, its filmmaking, its association with the French historical events of its time (e.g., the Algerian war) and how that related to American historical events (e.g., the Vietnam war), and, how they thought students would have interpreted the film as well as their own interpretations of the film.
This installation grew (pun intended) out of these conversations. The film points to the cycle of life, death, and rebirth and this installation aims to explore ideas and themes as they grow, die, and are reborn.