LondonPauline Julier: Wind Light Image
Curated by Jo Melvin
This exhibition hinges around the work ‘Naturalis Historia’ and assembles elements from it, in a site-specific installation at LG Gallery. ‘Naturalis Historia’ is composed of chapters; these unfold via the 2011 eruption of the Icelandic Eyjafjallajokull mountain which shut down air travel internationally stranding millions of passengers in numerous locations for several days. Julier herself was in a city amongst strangers, an experience which enables the work’s momentum, and its underlying reflective, meditative wake up, calling for a new Anthropocene alignment with the Earth. A conversation with Bruno Latour, the philosopher and social theorist conducted by Julier features as a chapter in ‘Naturalis Historia’ and in the artist’s book with the same title. A transcript is available in the exhibition.
Wind-Light is one of the ways in which the Chinese language gives meaning to the Western term, ‘landscape.’ According to the French philosopher and sinologist François Jullien, in China the concept of ‘landscape’ does not exist in the way we commonly think of it; ‘views of the countryside’ that are pastoral, bucolic and scenic. In ‘Living Off the Landscape’ Jullien explains how the Chinese language provides a powerful alternative to Western thinking, and that it is a particularly strong alternative because of its independent development. By giving landscape the name ‘mountain(s)-water(s)’, or ‘wind-light’ the Chinese conceptions speak of a correlation between high and low, between stillness and motion, what has form or is formless, as well as the links between what we see and hear.
In this way landscape becomes a matter of living, of becoming, of compressed time and is a plurality of correlations. Julier responds to the linguistic gestures embedded in Jullien’s identification of the opening to a rethinking of landscape offered by Jullien’s pointing out of the fault lines of western thinking that are provided by the Chinese language. Archaeology, mineralogy, geology, landmass, the cosmos and its evolution, what we might call the implications of ‘Deep Time’ on our consciousness infuse Julier’s practice. Personal and public archives, found footage, writers and philosophers are a constant source of reference in addition to the specificity of locations.
Pauline Julier proposes ‘Wind-Light-Image’ as way of conceiving cinema. Holding to her suggestion allows us to approach the cinematic experience, structure, narrative duration as a lived experience.
Wind Light Image includes two additional films Tout Ira Bien 2019, Cercate Ortensia 2021, and artist’s books, and a small table with collected reference sources.
Pauline Julier lives in Geneva, Switzerland. Her installations and films have been shown in contemporary art centers, institutions and festivals around the world, including the Centre Pompidou (Paris), Loop (Barcelona), Visions du Réel (Nyon), Tokyo Wonder Site (Tokyo), Museum of Modern Art (Tanzania), Geneva Art Center, Palazzo Grassi (Venice), New York, Madrid, Berlin, Zagreb, Toronto Cinematheque, and Istanbul Pera Museum. Julier had a solo exhibition at the Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris (CCS) in 2017. She completed a year-long residency in Rome last year at the Istituto Svizzero and her film “Naturales Historiae” was just released online at Vdrome.org. Her next film, “Way Beyond”, selected in competition at Visions du Réel 2021 will be in swiss cinemas this summer. She has a new installation ongoing in Institute of Contemporary Art in Villeurbanne (France) this springtime. She just received the Swiss Art Awards in Basel last September for Cercate Ortensia installation.
Jo Melvin is a curator, and Professor of Fine Art & Feminisms at Chelsea College of Art, UAL.
Courtesy of the artist and Laure Genillard Gallery, London