Juliette Dumas, 2015, burnt materials, thread, 40″ x 25″, © 2015, courtesy of ART 3 Gallery and the artist
Juliette Dumas creates conceptual artworks that address our strained relationship with nature. Dumas uses the physical properties of her materials and the dynamics of their interaction, to create poignant metaphors for humanity’s struggle to control the effects of environmental degradation. In creating the work “Untitled,” for example, Dumas burns materials and then attempts to sew the brittle, charred remnants back together. In her “Fire Paintings,” Dumas tries to manage an unpredictable fire on the surface of her work, an undertaking that prevents her from controlling the outcome of the painting. Dumas equates these “desperate actions” to the challenge of managing climate change, suggesting that the belief in our ability to rectify mistakes after-the-fact is a troubling leap of faith. In many of her works, Dumas portrays the tension between the natural world and our obsession with petroleum-based products. In her series entitled “Strategies of Resistance,” Dumas depicts natural materials, such as stone and wood, held in a state of suspension by plastic sheet materials that are stretched and stressed by the relationship. These works portend a failure of the plastic, resulting in a free fall of the natural elements. In a work entitled “A Brief History of Oil and Ice,” Dumas encases crude oil inside of a block of ice. The ice inevitably fails to contain the oil, which seeps through cracks and drips down the surface like tears. In this poetic work, Dumas depicts our inability to contain the effects of fossil fuel consumption. She relies on melting ice — the quintessential symbol of climate change — to express the futility of our efforts and the accompanying guilt we experience as we continue to consume. In all of these works, Dumas asks us to consider whether our approach to managing environmental outcomes is any less futile than the strategies she employs to control the outcomes of her artistic process.
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Juliette Dumas, 2013, wax, soot on paper mounted on wood, 12″ x 18″, © 2013, courtesy of ART 3 Gallery and the artist
A Brief History of Oil and Ice
Juliette Dumas, 2015, crude oil, ice, recorded with digital photography, dimensions variable, © 2015, courtesy of ART 3 Gallery and the artist