Friday, February 19, 2010

Pruitt-Igoe Falls

Cyprien Gaillard's art seems to be getting quite a lot of attention at the moment.  I see that one of his works is included in the new Gagosian Gallery exhibition of art inspired by J. G. Ballard, along with other artists I've discussed here before like Ed Ruscha, Tacita Dean and Dan Holdsworth. Gaillard specialises in showing contemporary architecture as ruins - in this respect the Bugada and Cargnel gallery compares him to '18th century French 'ruiniste' painter' Hubert Robert.  'Whether he commissions a traditional landscape painter to paint colourful views of housing projects in Swiss suburbs, surrounded by their luxurious natural environment (Swiss Ruins, 2005), or introduces a view of a tower-block into a 17th Century Dutch landscape etching (Belief in the Age of Disbelief, 2005), Gaillard shows contemporary architecture as a modern ruin on the verge of being taken over by nature'.

Hubert Robert, Imaginary View of the Grand Gallery of the Louvre in Ruins, 1796

This gallery site goes on to describe his ongoing project for a 'parc aux ruines', scattering monuments across the world: 'a monumental bronze sculpture of a duck taken from a derelict Modernist neighbourhood of high rise buildings in Paris' taken to the terrace of Berlin's Modernist Neue Nationalgalerie, 'crushed concrete remains of a tower block from the suburban city of Issy-les-Moulineaux laid out on the main ally of a Renaissance castle' and the concrete from a demolished social housing project in Glasgow, 'recycled into a 4 meter high obelisk (Cenotaph to 12 Riverford Road, Pollokshaw, Glasgow, 2008)'.

In an interview with Alix Rule, Gaillard said "You know how the London bridge or some French castles have been moved, rock by rock, and reconstructed? My main project, the work of my life, is to do the same for towerblocks. I mean, they cost a fortune to demolish - if I could somehow use the money (and then find more money), I would relocate them on a big piece of land in the south of France and create a park. There would be a few from Glasgow and Sheffield, and a few from Paris and from Marseille, and a few from Kiev, the same way Piranesi would make a caprice. The place would become a 21st-century park of ruins as well as my sculpture park."

I've included a link below to the video Pruitt-Igoe Falls (2009) which shows the destruction of a Glasgow tower block along with a nocturnal view of Niagara Falls.  Gaillard is quoted in Interview as saying: "When the building fell, the dust from the destruction made its way through the graveyard below us like a ghost, slowly coming to the camera until everything went black. It becomes a natural monument, just like Niagara Falls at night-both subjects are falling, both slowly bring you to obscurity."  The title comes from the failed urban housing project, Pruitt-Igoe in St Louis, which was completed in 1955 and demolished in 1972.

1 comment:

Hels said...

Interesting stuff. Hubert Robert was interested in themes like the power of nature in comparison to the puny effort of humans, the inevitability of decay, the value of history and the beauty of empty (no humans) landscapes.

So I can see why Gaillard might be interested in showing contemporary architecture as a modern ruin on the verge of being taken over by nature.

But scattering bits of monuments across the world seems to be tapping into a different dynamic. Do you know what it is?