Purple Diary

[July 15 2011]

SALT 3: CYPRIEN GAILLARD’s SOLO SHOW at the utah museum of fine arts, salt lake city

As part of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts’ new exhibition series, the young French artist Cyprien Gaillard showcases his film Cities of Gold and Mirrors
(2009). Over nine minutes, the film runs as a non-narrative
five-segment film shot in Cancun, Mexico. Set to a synthesized
soundtrack from an Eighties French-Japanese cartoon called The Mysterious Cities of Gold,
the film opens to the scene of young Americans’ Spring-break
debauchery. In the background, a hotel resort designed to imitate an
ancient Mayan pyramid, draws Gaillard’s parallels between consumerist
decadence and architecture – the mindless tourist’s act becomes one of a
living, modern ruin. Working in film, video, photography and
installation, the film continues Gaillard’s work in the artistic
traditions of Romanticism and Land Art to engage his ideas of
displacement, disenchantment, and decay within our contemporary
landscape. The scenes then switch from a sea view of a dolphin swimming,
to a Bloods gang member performing a ritual dance upon the sacred Mayan
site of Las Ruinas del Rey, then shifting again to the violent,
cinematic explosion of a large mirrored building. The spectacle of
demolition falls into a certain sensibility to Robert Smithson’s
vision of buildings that “rise into ruin” through destruction. With the
Mayan prophecy of our era’s end on December 21 2012, the paradoxes of
Mexico’s landscapes and traditions ties Gaillard’s film in our time’s
movement through the cyclic power struggles of our environment. Photo of a still from Cities of Gold and Mirrors (2009) by Cyprien Gaillard, 16mm film, 8.52mn, courtesy of Spruth Magers and Laura Bartlett Gallery. Text Sophie Pinchetti

Salt 3: Cyprien Gaillard is on view through August 21 at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Marcia and John Price Museum Building, 410 Campus Center Drive, Salt Lake City.

Subscribe to our newsletter