French Vietnamese artist Thu Van Tran’s sculptures and installations evoke the emotions experienced as an immigrant to the French capital and reflects a deep rooted national consciousness resulting from a mixture of the traditional and the colonial. Her first project, Barque Du Palacio (2007) features a wooden sail boat placed into the atrium of a Parisian housing estate, Les Espaces Abraxas, which at the time, was used to house immigrants in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
An authoritarian, ‘dreadful’ community space, its ‘notoriety’ stems from the fact that its cold austerity, has been the used as a backdrop for several dark sci-fi movies. It is the peculiar blend of kitschy post-modern exterior wall features, the scale-defying towering mass and the moody Parisian atmosphere, that has produced a surreal, dystopic, theatrical space, even if it seems ‘unfriendly’ for human habitation.
The artwork of Swiss artist Julian Charriere seems on the one hand to be part land art performance and part sculpture, weaving anthropology, ecology, history, politics and art together to form a narrative based on what humans have done or are doing in certain places, creating a portrait of the earth of sorts. He also has a penchant for travel to exotic locations, in a way retracing footsteps of early explorers, to re-interpret their findings within the contemporary situation.
One such location at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan which was the Soviet test site for nuclear bombs during the cold war between 1949 and 1989, produced the Polygon series of photographs. Inspired by J.G. Ballard’s short story, The Terminal Beach, the Polygon photographs depict a flat, tree-less field with fragments of left over concrete ‘geese’ buildings used to collect bomb blast data, standing upright in juxtaposition to the horizontality of the land. Here, Charriere would sprinkle radioactive dust onto the film stock (somehow), let sit for a while, and then develop it again, resulting in photographs sprinkled with ‘specks’ of radiation.
Kosovan artist Petrit Halilaj’s sculptures are a 3-dimensional manifestation of his childhood memories and artistic endeavours as a youth. But beyond the autobiographical nature of expressing a childhood lost from war and forced displacement, they also have deeper significance; they are common icons which have been redefined to express the disconnection from reality that his world had become, the deconstruction of iconographic mythologies inherent within them.
The Abetare (2015) exhibition in Paris, is full of steel sculptures which seems to be a manifestation of single line drawings or doodles he once did as a child. That they are now recreated out of steel rods at ‘life size’ gives them a characterization as well as bringing to life that period of time in his life.
It is an understatement that American artist Sam Lewitt likes to take things apart. Specifically, consumer electronic products that aren’t meant to be dismantled are done so on the one hand to satisfy our aesthetic and intellectual needs but more importantly, by dismantling and reconfiguring these components in the realm of art, they shed light on the inter-dependence of the sustainability of these systems and the sustainability of our lives.
In Fluid Employment (2012), Ferrofluid, which is a lubricant invented by NASA for use in outer space, is used along with magnets and fans to create spikey gelatinous forms with spikes fanning out on top that move around to the changing air currents. Gravity holds fluids together in a tidy volume that can be placed in a tank. The problem encountered in space with machines that need to be lubricated by oil, where there is no gravity, was overcome with ferrofluid which can be ‘held’ by magnetic waves.
Instead of staying out of sight, lubricating ball bearings in outer space, here the ferrofluid is laid out on a plastic sheet, held together by magnets and allowed to ‘express themselves’ which is the shape of the magnetic waves.
Greek architect artist Andreas Angelidakis creates imaginary buildings or environments that references the narcissistic contemporary condition, the ubiquitousness of the internet and globalization, juxtaposed with something from ‘history’, either modern history or antiquitous ruins, and projects a future conclusion based on these.
Hand House (2011) is an imaginary house in the hills over looking the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles that is a reflection of the state of the city; a place of broken dreams (for the ‘starry eyed’) and where those that do make it, end up running daily from polar opposites of hiding in a cave for maximum privacy and exposing oneself in an elevated glass box for maximum publicity.