Vivarium is the collective name for terrariums, aquariums and other recreated ecosystems in which animals are kept for observation. In Hardy's Vivarium it is precisely people who, lost in thought, are publicly exposed. Each tableau, or Episode, has its own theme and is like a cryptogram that shows its true nature when you decipher the code. For example, Episode 3 confronts us with the glorification of the Dutch colonial past by means of a ticket office for the VOC Swing-ship De Achilles. In Episode 4 we discover that Andrea, the owner of an Italian cinema, is struggling with his culturally defined role as a man, as we see how he dreams of freeing himself from this defined gender identity in Episode 5.
The scenes feel lifelike thanks to Hardy's hyper-realistic working method: he designs, builds and photographs sets where he fuses even the smallest details into a poetic narrative. Next he makes photomontages which are then shown life-size - one-on-one - in a light box with a window frame. The construction of each of these contemporary "trompe-l'oeils" takes 3 to 4 months.