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Indian Palm Study I
9 Polaroids, wooden frames
102 x 73 x 4 cm each
Inv. Nr. 160

Born in 1980 in Paris, France
Lives and works in Paris, France, and Berlin, Germany

Cyprien Gaillard, who won the French Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2010, is fascinated by recent architecture, with a preference for social housing and the tower blocks built in postwar Europe. He uses the figures and approaches of an archeologist or an archivist, while also adopting hooligan and vandalistic positions. Through a wide range of media (photographs, videos, installations, paintings, performances), he builds an account of what many thought was a solution to the housing problem, as well as an impulse for new ways of living, but proved wrong. His artwork is about ruination and the paired notions of destruction and preservation.

Indian Palm Study I was produced during a research trip in India on the occasion of the Paris - Delhi - Bombay… exhibition, held at the Parisian Centre Pompidou in 2011. In a way, this work extends the Geographical Analogies Polaroid series (2006-2010), a documentary study of architectonic details shot by the artist in various locations around the world to point out their similarities. As the title clearly states, the subject of the Indian Palm Study is nature, a recurring theme in his corpus that he always confronts with architecture. Parts of buildings appear in the background but the main subjects here remain the palm trees, as structuring elements of the Indian landscape that he explores from Delhi to Chandigarh, Varanasi to Calcutta, Hampi to Goa and Bombay. He produced two series of nine Polaroids each, the first focusing on the leaves and the second on the trunks, using a scientific-like sampling approach. The Polaroid technique is used for its immediacy, which produces unique witness images on the very location of the photo shoot. But as close to a perfect visual account as it may seem, this type of image is also subject to decay as the photographic paper gradually fades. Art writer Jan Tumlir sees Polaroid as a “readymade ruin”, which follows the same entropic law as the architecture and nature that Gaillard unceasingly brings into play.