Digging in the Depths

Quentin Germain

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May 19th – June 11th


Far away, at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean, exploitation of natural resources in the form of crude oil and the marking of territory as conquest and presence are at hand. While here, steel plates are treated with a corrosive substance, then they are painted over, leaving certain imprints free to rust over time. Some parts are layered with concrete mixed with metal particles, invoking familiar structures that are left to change beyond our control.

A mostly flat seabed is what you’re trying to make out on the images you’re seeing right now. It’s dark, and is trying to escape your piercing gaze. But the flatness of the pictorial space is trying to convey its metamorphosis. It is reassembling in front of you, as we speak. Oil being drained uncontrollably is something you will have to tolerate and coexist with in your glances. Vision causes pain. As the depictions accumulate in your vision, all you are searching, longing for, is to properly place yourself. But the arrangement and the scenery are never ending.

How much time do we need to assess whether the nature of our being is changing? Because, the scenes depicted on the corroded steel are not passing. They are a rare light into the process of changing of nature and of our own social fabric. The materiality of the spilling oil, of an embedded flag and of a couple of bumps on the otherwise flat seabed is creating a loss of intention and control. A ground is set for it to enter into an equal relationship with the inquisitiveness of our vision. A relationship of consumption and production. The active agent key to this relationship is the materiality itself of these pictorial planes, because it makes the future creation of meaning function properly. This way, in the long examination of our changing natures, we are being allowed to reedit our collective histories. Corrosion is inserting and making space for itself so that we are later capable of assembling alternative scenarios.

Presenting themselves as new elements, created as remnants of old structures, are outlines of settlement. A scenario of familiarity and sense of belonging. They are being given over to the silent materiality of corrosion and decay. The familiar home then, is capable of spontaneously generating another order. These new, performative structures and forms, still carry over the old information they contained, but are presenting the importance of the material’s right to self-organize. The patterns are contained by our vision, it is not something imposed from the outside as an inert matter, but rather, should be interpreted as coming from within the materials present.

Text: Stefan Ralević