Artboard 12
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23.04.2022 - 16H53 by La peau de l’ours

The last rain

Julia Gault’s work often confronts the ephemeral shaping of natural materials with the coldness and inertia of metallic structures. Malleability and change face immobility. This dichotomy gives the impression of contemplating our societies blindly frozen in front of multiple disruptions which are supposed to bring about some changes in the absence of a real upheaval.

The question of water and its unpredictable impact on the land – and the Earth – is omnipresent in Julia Gault’s work. The notions of territory, habitat, resilience and collapse are addressed in this subtly political approach.

In his work, earth becomes the constructive and narrative element while water is the activating element. Sometimes referring to nature, sometimes to a thousand-year-old tradition of construction and anthropic creation, earth symbolizes the indestructible link between civilization and its natural setting, while water is integrated in this work for its fluidizing characteristics.

The installation Where the Desert Meets the Rain 2, carboys, bottles, jerry cans and watering cans made of raw earth represents this tension. Placed on metal shelves and gratings forming an architectural structure in the space, these objects form a marked contrast between their naturalness and the artificiality of their base, a symbol of human rigor and the desire to control nature. This trend is reinforced by the water poured by the artist’s hand into some of these containers before the exhibition opens. The mud that flows to the ground echoes the notion of collapse caused by rainfall, floods, landslides. The barely soiled metal gratings seem unaffected, frozen…

The wall works Vertiges show the artist’s fascination with wide urban construction sites and the ability to distort the relief to the benefit of a particular building. The work is made with photographs of French constructions trapped in grids while a stream of liquefied clay distorts their visual rendering. Water and earth alter again anthropic actions.

The leakage of water, symbolizing the inability to contain this natural element, is, moreover, suggested in the work The drop loaded with earth. This sculpture is made of copper pipes crossed by balls of earth forming an unmanageable necklace.

The unthinkable theory of a mortal civilization finds a poetic echo in the sculptures and installations of Julia Gault. By materializing the unbearable fragility of our daily lives, her work shakes the foundations on which our societies and our lives are created. The instability, which we do not want to perceive, manifests itself in the passing of time, climatic disturbances and the tendency to always build higher, bigger and simply more. Julia Gault borrows from the image of the colossus with feet of clay to signify this human impotence in the face of its illusory control of nature.

Thibaut Wauthion