Artists Cyprien Gaillard
Venue Atelier Hermès
All images Courtesy by the artist and Atelier Hermès
While exploring sites around the world, Gaillard has paid attention to remnants of past civilizations sitting atop geological foundations; modernist, utopian architectures that themselves gradually turn into modern relics; and the people of contemporary cities that inhabit these spaces. His works consider the landscapes carved out by urban environments and expose the causes of their deterioration: the encroachment of oblivion, cultural colonization, capitalist gentrification, and the questionable desires of human beings. Yet, his view toward the ruins of civilization is truly ambivalent: it reflects both a Romanticist notion of nature and culture and his own explorations of cities, their neighborhoods and histories. Taken together, his works suggest the hybridity of contemporary life that cannot be simply defined.
The exhibition consists of 23 Polaroid photographs, including 20 that Gaillard shot in Los Angeles earlier this year, along with two early film works. In the new Polaroids, entitled Everything but spirits (2020), images of beer refrigerators in liquor stores and plant life throughout the city of LA overlap through a complex process of double exposure.The otherworldly results call to mind interactions between humankind and the built and natural environment, as well as the pitfalls of human consumption. Gaillard’s contemplation of civilization and modern ruins, already sprouted in his early work, can be found in Cities of Gold and Mirrors (2009), filmed in Cancun, Mexico, and The Lake Arches (2007), a short, yet vital, video work in which two friends dive head-first into a postmodern concrete environment, with brutal results.