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For a new alliance with the beavers

For a new alliance with the beavers

In the Persian Empire, the Sasanian period, i.e. from 224 to 651, but also under the Achaemenids, in the first periodany Millennium BC, the official religion is Zoroastrianism. Around the central figure, Ahura Mazda, many deities are attracted Yazata (“Worthy to be adored”). The most famous is Anahita, associated with water, fertility, and wisdom… In some representations, she wears a cloak made of dozens of beaver skins.

susan husky, Anahita, goddess of the Avesta River2022, watercolor on paper mounted on canvas, 160 x 116 cm

© Courtesy of Alain Guthark Gallery

This is because the animal has a separate status. the A book written by Arda Viraf, The sacred work, which narrates the dream life of a Zoroastrian devotee, is made even more precise by the narration that the couple, for killing a beaver, are condemned to a kind of hell: eating its excrement for all eternity! We are not kidding that the landscape architect is a valuable ally in combating the drought of the region and making agriculture possible.

And this coexistence is much older still, as shown in a study published in 2024 by Shomon Hussein and Natalie Brosgaard, archaeologists at Aarhus University in Denmark. Since the beginning of the Holocene, and at the end of the Great Pleistocene, 12,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers in northern Europe have benefited from ecosystems created by the construction of dams by rodents, here the European species Castor fiber : Fish, waterfowl, edible plants, “pre-chopped” wood… The life of our ancestors was made easier thanks to the beaver, which at that time was undoubtedly the greatest transformer of its environment, and whose population was up to 50 times larger than that of humans!

Susan Huskey, Grandfather of the Beaver and the Tree of Life

susan husky, Find Beaver and the Tree of Life2021, watercolor on paper.

© Courtesy of Alain Guthark Gallery

What it is today… The situation has changed radically, as the beaver was on the verge of extinction in both Europe and North America (where this species is found). Canadian castor), are hunted for their fur and beaver (anal secretion used in perfumery). But the situation is not hopeless, this is what award-winning artist Susan Huskey wants to believe Drawing now 2023, which is presented in his watercolors Exhibition The time of deep riversdocuments and advocates for the rehabilitation of the beaver and, better yet, a return to harmonious coexistence between this species and another, ours.

Susan Huskey

Susan Huskey, artist and winner of the 2023 Drawing Now Award.

© Gregoire Avenel To tell who

In some of the works, many of which he co-designed with the philosopher Baptiste Morizot, the aim is to demonstrate what humanity has lost by forgetting this ally. Thus, in a kind of graph that shows the complexity of environments compared to the centuries that pass, we see that the apogee, “the pinnacle of the maximum richness of living rivers,” was reached thanks to the beaver.

Susan Huskey, Deep River Time

susan husky, The time of deep rivers2023, watercolor.

© Courtesy of Alan Guthark Gallery

And the collapse that begins on the thirteenthH Over the past century, river simplifications, deforestation, beaver eradication, swamp drainage, waterway channeling have accompanied… and the curve will not, finally, be reversed and returned to healthy aquatic systems. With the reactivation of processes associated with beavers, which is confirmed by the work of Krzysztof Kokula, from the University of Rzeszow, in Poland, published in 2024: the physical, chemical and bacteriological properties of the lowland watercourse are significantly improved by the stabilization of the beaver family.

Susan Huskey, Deep River Time

susan husky, The time of deep rivers2023, watercolor.

© Courtesy of Alan Guthark Gallery

This thousand-year-old story is told in detail in “A History of Alternative Political Alliances with the Beaver People,” the centerpiece of the exhibition, a scroll of paper about eight meters long that recounts the fortunes and misfortunes of beaver-beaver relations. .

Deep Time Rivers Gallery

View gallery The time of deep rivers Written by Susan Haskey (curator of Laurent

Germond) was presented at the Drawing Laboratory from January 26 to April 7, 2024.

© Production Drawing Laboratory © Photo Nicolas Brasseur

This saga could find a happy conclusion thanks to the commitment of residents and scientists who have become aware of the virtues of the rodents (protected in France since 1905) to mitigate water surpluses, droughts, floods and groundwater depletion… This is because upstream from the beaver dam, the water slows down, becomes buried, The streams spread, meander, wet…: the entire ecosystem is reborn and even provides a bulwark for the spread of fires, as recent studies in the United States have shown.

Susan Huskey Patty and Harris River

susan husky, Patty and Harris Brock2022, watercolor on paper.

© Courtesy of Alain Guthark Gallery

In a 2022 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also noted these positive effects and considered that cooperation with beavers is essential to combat global warming, from a scientific and economic point of view.

Part of the exhibition takes a more militant turn to accelerate this collaboration by calling for an “alliance movement with the beaver people.”

Deep Time Rivers Gallery Susan Huskey

View gallery The time of deep rivers Written by Susan Haskey (curator of Laurent

Germond) was presented at the Drawing Laboratory from January 26 to April 7, 2024.

© Production Drawing Laboratory © Photo Nicolas Brasseur

This includes designing various objects and posters, and soon, creating experimental projects where works inspired by the beaver will be installed, as it is the best “low-tech” and “low-carbon” way to reactivate self-healing. Waterways operations.

In her watercolors, inspired by the tradition of natural and scientific painting, Susan Huskey restores the beaver's central place in the water cycle, and thus the place of life. I hope that these works will become a vector for transformation first in our perceptions, and then in our actions.

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