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Julius von Bismarck and Julian Charrière's installation Clockwork was first created for the art space OBEN, in Vienna. Twelve concrete mixers, set-up in a circle in the center of the vast 19th century space, are filled with pieces, mostly stones, of various Viennese buildings. This "erosion machine" accelerates the urban decay. The man made rectangular shapes of the colliding stones are now rounded and transformed back to dust.


In collaboration with Julius von Bismarck
Installation views: OBEN, Vienna

With Somehow, They Never Stop Doing What They Always Did, Julian Charrière creates architectural structures whose surface is gradually covered by patterns of decomposing matter. Inside a steel and glass showcase, the artist displays small bricks made of plaster, fructose and lactose, which are moistened with water from major international rivers (the Saône, the Nile, the Yangtze, the Euphrates, etc.). Bacteria progressively grow under the protection of the glass case. These constructions evoke mythological towers or architectural archetypes like the Tower of Babel. Through their rapid degradation they seem to actually belong to history.


Installation views: Les modules du Palais de Tokyo - Biennale de Lyon, 2013

Polygon is a series of photographs shot at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakhstan. The photographs are made on analogue medium format film, and submitted to radiation before their development. Thus they both depict the site of nuclear radiation and bear the actual trace of radioactivity's effects. Charrière's journey to the Polygon was inspired by J.G. Ballard's short story "The Terminal Beach". It oscillates between art, science and fiction and brings us to one of the most remote and inaccessible of places – to the beginning of the nuclear age. It is a mystic place – a nuclear space – antithetic to human life, and showing the dystopic aesthetics of a future archaeology.

Shot in Kazakhstan, around the nuclear polygon where Joseph Stalin conducted the first atomic tests, Somewhere is an excursion into human-environmental interrelations and the constructive as well as destructive topographic modifications in which they result. Julian Charrière pursues an archaeology and geology of deserted human landscapes, exploring their past and future. It all ends where it started. In the present.


Sound: Edward Davenport

On The Sidewalk, I Have Forgotten The Dinosauria is an 80 meters deep compressed core drilling from Berlin. The artist uses the rocks and sand brought to light by this drilling, but only after submitting them to distillation, transformation and compression. What is exhibited in the glass cases at the end of this process is both a soil sample and a piece of sculpture, both an archaeological trace and the semblance of a ready-made. In its first presentation, the horizontality of the display had replaced the verticality of the drilling, laying bare successive moments of geological time for all to see. In later installations, the artist restored the verticality of geological sedimentation by creating columns of overlapping time.


The Blue Fossil Entropic Stories is the photographic trace of an expedition the artist undertook in 2013, travelling to Iceland to climb an iceberg in the Arctic Ocean and melt the frozen water beneath his feet with a gas torch during 8 hours. Like an absurd, quixotic hero, Julian Charrière confronts the elements in a seemingly hopeless battle – human time against geological time. And yet, a battle of which global warming is only the starting point. What remains of this perilous endeavour are three photographs of arresting beauty, a kind of contemporary version of Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer Overlooking the Sea of Fog (1817-18), and a questioning of our relation to nature as inherited from the Romantics via ecological thought.


Future Fossil Spaces was first created for the spaces of the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne. The fossils mentioned in the title do not refer to traces of animal or plant life found in rocks, but to the Latin etymology of the word, which translates literally as “obtained from digging”, the action of the artist consisting therefore in proposing, in the present of the exhibition space, works that are in dialectical tension between the two arrows of time, one pointing to the past and the other towards the future. Unfolding on the floor are strangely beautiful coloured landscapes composed of enamelled steel basins filled with saline solutions from Argentinean lithium deposits, resembling the aerial view of the salt beds; rising up are tall columns of salt blocks from the same area marking the tension between a material of the future, lithium, and the length of time required to create the salt.


Installation views: Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne

We Are All Astronauts, whose title is inspired by the writing of Buckminster Fuller, is composed of 13 abraded world globes, which seem to be floating over a table. The globes date from 1890 to 2011, and the artist has sanded their successive and shifting geopolitical contours until their carefully drawn territories disappeared from their surfaces. To do so, he created a special, "international sandpaper" with mineral samples from all UN recognized countries, a remnant from one of his previous works, Monument – Sedimentation Of Floating Worlds (2013). The dust created by the abrasion gently settled on the table beneath the globes, creating new, yet to be defined cartographies.


Installation views: Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris

And The Post-Modern Collapse Of Time And Space is a short video-loop, shot in Iceland and capturing a single, accidental action: a stone rolling down a mountain, set in motion by the artist’s hand. Like the “butterfly effect” of chaos theory, there is no knowing what this initial, simple gesture will generate, only that the smallest of changes can result in large differences in a later state, in other spaces.


Dominions consists of a bacterial mapping throughout Germany and Switzerland, the artists having systematically collected microbes at close to 30 carefully chosen locations (Dreiländereck, the point where Germany, France and Switzerland meet; the coal mines of Hambach; the viewing platform at Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany; Elbsandsteingebirge, Caspar David Friedrich’s place of inspiration; Turtmanntal, the highest forests of Switzerland; La Brévine, the coldest place in Switzerland, etc.). Displayed in sealed glass vitrines, the different bacteria grew into colonies of different shapes, sizes and color, creating new, ever shifting topographies.


In collaboration with Andreas Greiner
Installation views: Program e.V., Berlin

Panorama consists of a series of photographs seemingly depicting majestic alpine landscapes under various weather conditions, showing snowy peaks emerging from foggy valleys or mountain panoramas lit by a fleeting rainbow. But images are not always what they seem to be, and indeed, what Julian Charrière shot in this series are different ephemeral interventions, produced site-specifically in various construction sites in Berlin. The artist used extracted soil that was covered by flour and fire extinguisher foam to generate miniature, model Alps inspired by his native Switzerland in the middle of the city. With this work, the artist questions not only how perception works, but also our fantasized relation to “Nature” and the sublime, while playing the demiurge on his own, limited scale.


Tropisme consists of a refrigerated showcase in which the artist has deposited plants captured in a sheath of ice – as if time could be stopped, and the plants might be preserved and archived for future use. In this frozen landscape, the vitality of matter is protected exothermically from the forces of entropy and decay. But the organisms also point backwards in time, towards the inception of ancient molecular memories. The plants (orchids, cactuses, etc.) are testimony to a geological period – the Cretaceous – which saw the extinction of dinosaurs. The artist thus freezes them like remains from a time whose memory forever escapes us, except maybe in some uncertain zone of our reptilian brain.



"Playing Future"
27.04.2015 – 13.09.2015
Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany

"Destination Vienna 2015"
17.04.2015 - 31.05.2015
Kunsthalle Wien (Museumsquartier), Vienna, Austria

11.04.2015 - 30.05.2015
Bugada & Cargnel, Paris, France

14.03.2015 - 24.05.2015
CEAAC - Centre européen d'actions artistiques contemporaines, Strasbourg, France

"Rare Earth"
19.02.2015 - 31.05.2015
Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria

"Métamorphisme II"
04.01.2015 - 08.11.2015
Musée des Beaux-Arts du Valais, Sion, Switzerland


"Die Kräfte Hinter Den Formen"
12.12.2015 - 28.02.2016
Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Austria

"Waterbound - Vom Leben mit dem Wasser"
22.05.2015 - 26.07.2015
Neue Galerie Dachau, Dachau, Germany
23.05.2015 - 30.08.2015
Kallmann Museum Ismaning, Ismaning, Germany