Landscape Painting shows painted landscapes—a desert scene with cacti and rocks and a jungle scenario. The artist traveled to two locations in Mexico, where he selected an appropriate segment of land and organized a team of local helpers. He paid these helpers to first paint the landscape white and then to overpaint the landscape again in its original colors with acrylic paint. These painters reconstructed the colors of their local surroundings from memory. The photographs resulting from this intervention are composed of multiple detail views and thus result in extremely high-resolution images (> 400 MPx). Upon closer examination, one can find the layer of acrylic paint that covers leaves, thorns, sand, and other aspects of the landscape. Since only these surfaces are visible, essentially all that one sees is plastic in the form of an acrylic coat of paint. These two painting processes are each documented by thirty-minute videos. In the jungle, Maya Indians paint various green tones onto the whitened environment, leaf by leaf. In the desert, local agricultural workers paint the stony cactus-covered landscape over a period of seven days.
Inspired by the figure of Tethys – a sea goddess in Greek mythology, the daughter of the sky (Ouranos) and of the earth (Gaia) – Julius von Bismarck has conceived the original project “Die Mimik der Tethys” (the expressions of Tethys), for which he has moved the oceans. That is at least the sensation produced by the presence of a buoy hung over the Palais de Tokyo’s Palier d’honneur, corroded by sea salt and covered by dry seaweed. In perpetual motion, the buoy reproduces the movements of its original setting, off the Atlantic coast. It is in this way that the visitors find themselves metaphorically under the ocean, and can directly perceive the sway of its waves, which can be either gentle, or wild. The artist works on the human perception of natural phenomena, either by using highly technical approaches, or by simple site specific gestures. As he puts it: “it’s about the perfect image we have of nature. In reality, it doesn’t look like we imagine it does in a Caspar David Friedrich pastoral painting.” The astonishing sensation created by his moving buoy does indeed depict a misappropriated or modified vision of nature, transforming the building into a submarine world, paced by a giant pendulum that obeys only itself. “Die Mimik der Tethys” works like a barometer of nature’s moods. As a random alternation of moments of calm and violence, this hypnotic installation plunges the visitors into the heart of an immersive relationship with nature. Far from being idealised, it takes over the Palais de Tokyo and is unveiled in an extremely unstable way, a tireless heaving that reminds us of the tender osmosis that links us, just like our vain desire to control our environment, with the risk of utterly destroying it.