Julian Charrière (1987, Morges, Switzerland) is a French-Swiss artist based in Berlin. Charrière‘s work is definitively conceptual, with interests in archaeology and geology, and encompasses most forms of media including; installation, film, performance and photography. He has been chosen for the central show at this year’s Venice Biennale, Viva Arte Viva.
The foundation of Charrière’s practice is field work, which at once plays the role of research gathering, development and final outcome. During his frequent travels, he leads an artistic investigation into globalisation – which he often refers to the shrinking of time and space through cheap travel opportunities and the increasing prominence of the internet in our lives. Considering this topic, so currently at the fore of political, artistic and environmental concerns, it is no wonder that many people find his work at once aesthetically arresting and conceptually strong.
Charrière utilises an unusual point of view, seemingly being all at once in the present, past and future. An example of this can be seen in his project Tropisme where he presents a few frozen plants captured in a sheath of ice. This project has the wonderful ability of not only stopping time at one moment, but at once looking back and looking forward to a time where these organic elements may no longer exist. It appears Charrière has created his own Doomsday Vault – though these plants offer no such chance at reproduction or maintenance of the species – teasing us with what we might certainly lose.
Another such work took place on top of an iceberg, The Blue Fossil Entropic Stories saw Charrière atop an iceberg in the Arctic Ocean, off the coast of Iceland, armed with a blowtorch which he preceded to use on the ice beneath him for a period of 8 hours. His result was a physical manifestation, on an individual level, of the consequences of global warming and the mass effect of humans on the rising of global temperatures. With one act, over 8 freezing hours, Charrière altered time, giving us an insight into what is inevitable in the not too distant future.
The piece Clockwork, which he created alongside Julius von Bismarck, involved a number of cement mixers in a circle filled with pieces of old buildings from Vienna. Dubbed by the pair as “erosion machines” they took the man-made and over a period of time returned it back to the materials they were created from thereby speeding up time, and reversing it, once more.
Though you cannot describe it as difficult to appreciate Charrière, you can certainly appreciate the amount of thought required to truly understand his work. Unlike many artists who are currently receiving similar successes in the artworld, his work has a far deeper and darker resonance, offering us a view of a much bleaker future.
His work has been exhibited in exhibitions including; For They That Sow the Wind, Parasol unit, London, Not Really Really, Frédéric de Goldschmidt collection, Art Brussels, Julian Charrière. Pitch Drop, Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf, Future Fossil Spaces, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne, Switzerland and Winner Kiefer Hablitzel Prize, Le Commun, Bâtiment d’art contemporain, Geneva.
Amy E. Brown
Feature Image: We Are All Astronauts (2013), Julian Charrière. Courtesy of the Artist.