International 2009 Archives
Cyprien Gaillard, Beton Belvedere and Dunepark
Stroom Den Haag (Netherlands)
With 'Beton Belvedere', Stroom Den Haag presents the first solo exhibition in the Netherlands of the French artist Cyprien Gaillard. Intrigued by contemporary ruins and concerned by the rapid destruction of modernist architecture, Gaillard explores notions of state vandalism, gentrification and the picturesque. The exhibition is curated by Zoë Gray and is accompanied by an ambitious project in public space, titled 'Dunepark'. Gaillard's site-
Gaillard's exhibition at Stroom presents an overview of his work from the past few years, revealing his unique vision of our contemporary landscape. Included are two large photographs, View over Sighthill and Chateau d'Oiron (both 2008). Whilst seeming to depict two unrelated buildings – a tower block in Glasgow and a French 18th century chateau – these two pictures reveal an enduring fascination of the artist: the widespread demolition of modernist architecture across Europe and the cultural amnesia that he believes this demolition will cause.
Also presented at Stroom are Gaillard's etchings Belief in the Age of Disbelief (2005), in which iconic Modernist towers are inserted into the rural landscapes of 17th century Holland. As a counterpart to Gaillard's work, a sequence of etchings by the Italian master Piranesi are shown – on loan for the first time ever from the collection of the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. These works locate Gaillard's very contemporary practice within the art historical tradition of landscape, whilst also revealing the ongoing artistic fascination with ruins and with shifting notions of the picturesque.
Exhibition February 22 -
Cyprien Gaillard, Belief in the Age of Disbelief, Paysage aux trois tours, 2005. Gravure, 17 x 23 cm. Courtesy Cosmic Gallery
© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2012. All Rights Reserved
Parallel to the show, Gaillard will excavate a German bunker currently buried in a hill overlooking the beach of Scheveningen. This is an area already undergoing drastic transformation as the existing communities and industries are displaced to make way for new housing developments. Gaillard's project comments obliquely on this process of gentrification and the way in which outmoded architecture is buried or hidden beneath new layers of urban development. This work, titled Dunepark – a rough translation of its location – can be seen as the embodiment of the 'Bunker Archeology' carried out by the French cultural theorist Paul Virilio in his eponymous 1975 book and exhibition. For Gaillard, the physical process of excavating is a form of negative sculpting. He sees this submerged bunker as a buried readymade. With the help of large earth-
Cyprien Gaillard, Dunepark, 2009 © Photos: Cyprien Gaillard