The artist’s nocturnal examination of glacial landscapes works towards ‘a new way of seeing’
Conceived during a trip to the first Arctic Biennale in 2017, the title work of Julian Charrière’s second show at Sean Kelly, 'Towards No Earthly Pole' (2019), utilises footage the artist shot of polar landscapes at night. ‘There is something mesmerising about the night and the fact that you don’t see your subject’, says the artist in this interview, filmed in his studio in Berlin. Charrière connects this with approach with ‘the development of photography in a darkroom, where you also, in a very intuitive way, interact with the elements’. Inspired by the Russian research vessel on which he travelled to the Arctic, and the fact that - for all its technological navigational aids - the ship it still required a spotlight operated by hand to identify icebergs in polar night, Charrière captures these landscapes with startling drama and vividness.
With growing awareness of ecological change, the artist says, ‘we all have the feeling we all have an emotional link to this place, but almost none of us experience it’. For the show at Sean Kelly, Charrière presents Towards No Earthly Pole alongside sculptures: Empire (2019), an Inuit sledge apparently sunk into the floor of the gallery, and ‘Not All Who Wander Are Lost’, 2019; this new sculpture series comprises large boulders resting on samples which have been drilled out of the rocks themselves. These works reference the geological phenomena of ‘erratics’ - stones and rocks transported across sometimes vast distances by glacier, deposited puzzlingly in empty fields after the glaciers melted. A second film, And beneath it all, flows liquid fire, depicts an ornamental neoclassical fountain filled not with water but flames. “It’s a project’, Charrière states, ‘which reflects the way we are seeing our world and constructing our world’.
‘Julian Charrière: Towads No Earthly Pole’ is on view at Sean Kelly, New York from 31st January to 21st March, 2020.