richard whitlock

 Photographs and films in orthogonal parallel projection

   moving pictures      installations      The Golden Age


An art installation by Richard Whitlock in the heart of the Couriot Mine (Saint-Etienne), France, 21 June - 30 October 2010


The tour of the Mining Museum of Saint-Etienne takes you along a raised walkway to the pithead over two huge cisterns that used to stock the water pumped out of the mine. In one of these the artist has chosen to embed a golden surface, something like a huge drop of liquid metal, made with geometrical precision. A curious texture enlivens this surface – it looks like a liquid in the process of crystallising. Between solid and liquid, this surface adjusts itself to the shape of the cistern. It lives and resonates within the high cistern walls which harbour it, following the rhythm of the changing light of the sky, come rain or shine.

A landmark of the patrimony of Saint-Etienne, and today an historical monument, Couriot is first of all a place that is felt. And it is the fundamental quality of this work by Richard Whitlock that it accompanies us in this process of discovery by the senses. The choice of this extraction-water cistern as a frame for his work is in itself a first mise en abîme. Right by the pit-head, it already speaks of the entrails of the earth and of the men who worked there. The art work it cradles echoes this immediately and leads us to meditation. Under the influence of the light, the ever-changing look of its burnished surface, in which the high walls of the tank and the ferrous deposits they carry are reflected, lead the man of today to reflect on what he is and what he has made and done, far beyond the universe of the mine. And it is indeed the great power of The Golden Age to remind us in this manner of the importance of these traces which underlie, just as much as our actions, what we are today, whether we like it or not.

Philippe Peyre, Director, Mining Museum/ Couriot Site



                           'liquid crystal' surface
From the local and specific to the general and planetary.
In the post-digital world the meaning of place has changed, undergoing a semantic shift and becoming much richer in its meanings and (re)presentations. The Heideggerian idea that place is connected ontologically with the constitutional core of being, appears to have been shaken theoretically (by deconstruction) and practically (by its nazi application), especially to the degree that place has been inherently and ontologically disconnected from the concept of origin. Indeed, in Badiou’s meta-ontological approach, place constitutes part of the event. In this version, however, place is the “scene” of the event as work of art, and not its point of origin. The “scene” of such an event is the place where the work of art restructures, in an innovative and generalising manner, the way the place has been constituted up until then. So while the event as a work of art acts locally and specifically it also intervenes on the “stage” of the world. In such a poetic process the work of art takes place on the local and specific “scene”, and simultaneously, as an artistic event, reaches out towards the general and the planetary.
Filippos Oraiopoulos, Architect, University of Thessaly (Greece)
Materials: Golden polyester sheet on expanded polystyrene on a metal substructure.


Construction Assistants: Lynda Rezaïk, Antoine Reynaud, Isabelle Forey, François Thierry, Sophie Chollet, Aude Capony, Jérôme Loisy, Aline Robin, Virginia Mastrogianni.


Dimensions: Diameter 10m, depth 6,70m.
Video: Tony Jasarevič (at left).