Past: September 18 → October 17, 2015
“Artists will be the Teddy Boys of the old culture. What you have not destroyed, we will destroy so as to forget everything.”
Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio in “Discourse on industrial painting and an applicable unitary art,” Internationale Situationniste 3, 1959
“Do you like this garden? […] that is yours? See to it that your children do not destroy it!”
Malcom Lowry, Under the Volcano, 1947
Thomas Teurlai completed his studies at Villa Arson in 2011 with official academic honours and the respect of his teachers. Since then, with his characteristic radicalism, he has continually pursued his ideas both in Europe and the United States in a constant back and forth between seamy brown-field sites and the institutional white cube, from the Palais de Tokyo to an abandoned fish cannery in remotest Iceland. Or elsewhere. Often, in his work, fluids, current, masses and mechanical and chemical reactions enter into conflict in confined or immense settings filled by contemporary ruins, relics of new spaces without qualities.
It would be difficult to deny that ruins are becoming increasingly prominent in the contemporary imagination. It would be equally difficult to deny that Thomas Teurlai is very much a part of all this. The beauty and poetry of the margins are at work in his practice, as is the alterity of zombie materials, whose second lives he forces into being. Just as, at school, we discover the muscular properties of a frog’s corpse by running weak electrical current through it, so Teurlai reveals the disenchanted convolutions of our disintegrating society by injecting into his discards the energy that they lost long ago. Since the voltage is not always exactly appropriate, the process often jumps jerkily from the ridiculous to the disquieting in an obscure St. Vitus dance. Fire, shadow, poison and other ancestral dangers are still there, ready to prey on our modern comfort, hiding in that interzone which we often prefer to keep out of sight, the unseen backstage of a recycled landscape where ruins become almost instantaneous thanks to the miracle of programmed obsolescence. And to all those who would still complain about the over-prominence of these post-industrial ruins in contemporary practices, to all those who might still miss the purportedly superior romantic qualities of more ancient, more glorious vestiges, I would advise them to spend more time in aquarium shops. They have temples in cast resin that are really quite striking.
— Passions and festivities in a violent age or reflections on the concerns of Thomas Teurlai by Arnaud Maguet
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