I read somewhere once that millions of years from now, long after mankind has vanished, our entire existence as a species will register in the geological record as a band of sediment less than one inch thick. That humbling thought occurred to me while visiting Cyprien Gaillard’s latest show.
Generally, I’m wary of the sort of work whose grandeur conforms comfortably to the tastes and inflated self-image of the globalist overlords who buy art. Also, I find the French sense of irony gratingly overdetermined at times. Both of these qualities are evident in this young Gallic artist’s output, yet I like it all the same, because Gaillard gets to our essential hubris about our place on earth.
This is especially true of the centerpiece installation: an impressive array of shovels, buckets, plows and blades from the front ends of earthmoving machines. Ranging from compact to massive, and bristling with serrated teeth worthy of a T. Rex, these objects represent the literal cutting edge of our planetary transformation. They embody capitalism’s creative destruction in all of its engineered glory.
Of course, the carbon footprint of appropriating these readymades on steroids was hardly small, but that may be part of Gaillard’s point. Everyone, he seems to be saying, overlooks the wages of globalism, blinded as we are by the conveniences it affords.—Howard Halle