Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, in collaboration with ENSBA – Lyon - École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, presents the first solo exhibition in Italy of Thomas Teurlai, one of the artists attending the Postgraduate programme of ENSBA – Lyon. Born in Meaux, near Paris, in 1988, Thomas Teurlai lives and works in Lyon and Paris.
Europium is the title of the show, and of the installation, which the artist has designed and produced for the exhibition space of the Foundation. Europium is the most reactive of the so-called rare earth elements –it oxidizes quickly and, when exposed to air, explodes spontaneously at temperatures between 150 °C and 180 °C. The works of Thomas Teurlai are immersive installations, in which spectators are invited to interact with a new world, a place that conveys both restlessness and amazement. His sculptures have the shape of a mysterious technological apparatus, made of various tools and equipment, machines and engines that generate movement, noise and sparkles – an eccentric, unconventional array of things, which creates a sense of alarm and attentiveness. Acting as a demiurge and eccentric inventor, the artist directs his attention to natural behavior and the reactions of matter, and of the substances that make up this installation setting, which is both esthetic and artificial at the same time. Since the 1960s, all sorts of ‘magic boxes’ (TVs, hi-fis, mobiles, PCs) have progressively occupied our homes and our lives – a technological universe that today is increasingly subject to planned obsolescence.
The components, connectors, and circuits of these appliances contain several precious metals. It is estimated that each ton of techno-waste contains about 500 grams of gold. Europium is an installation that focuses on the crucial role and relevance of this issue. Created from a ‘garbage dissection’ operation carried out in the exhibiting space, it looks halfway between an ultra-technological urban mine and an improvised urban lab. An uncontrolled and uncontrollable work that employs the physical and conceptual tools of art to replicate what happens in the urban landfills of the world, which are huge mines of rare earth elements. To extract and appropriate them, people resort to anything from deceit and abuse to legal strategies, and even physical fight for the control of those few grams of wealth hidden in the million cucubic meters of waste that are daily carried down the river of progress.
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