Julien Salaud: Stellar Cave IV

Curated by Aya Lurie

The Stellar Cave created by Julien Salaud invites the viewers into a space that encompasses a combination of nature and culture, shamanism, mysticism, and beauty, all of which are in dialogue with body culture in contemporary art. He has created scenes that recall renaissance frescoes and prehistoric wall paintings by interweaving threads,
held down by nails, into deer and other local wild animals as well as unearthly beings. These figures seem to have been captured by the web of threads, which defines
not only their movement but also its limits. Inspired by medieval aesthetics and traditional craftsmanship, the installation was produced during an artist class held by the artist at the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art with Israeli art-school graduates and the artists who
are part of the museum's educational staff, reflecting Salaud's dialogue-oriented artistic temperament. The cave is illuminated by a projected ultraviolet light, endowing the work with a fantastic, futuristic appearance. The richly symbolic hybrid images - combining animals, plants, and ornamental forms - offer a spectacular vision.
Salaud's works pursue different aspects of metamorphosis, which to his mind is an underlying evolutionary principle that propels and enables the development of new life forms and countless forms intertwined and death is but a transitional stage in the universe's never-ending cycles of life. The artist's interest in biochemistry and ethnology finds expression in his work, which is also influenced by primitive cultures, trances and shamanism - particularly practices in which animals are
an integral part of rites of passage. His work may be read in relation to Ernst Cassirer's definition of man as animal symbolicum. According to Cassirer, man - contrary to animals, which perceive the world instinctively, through their senses - makes sense of the world through symbolic forms. He describes man as entrapped in a network of symbols and meanings of his own making.

The upward-turned gaze in Salaud's cave encounters a universe of entities which hover in the dark, in a twilight zone between dream and reality, touching on the dark, enigmatic, mystical aspects of reality.

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