The ability to perceive accurately and discerningly is now our most limited, and our most valuable commodity. Julia Eichler’s work embraces the occasional disparity between perception and reality.
The Halle based artist, Julia Eichler, is a prolific creator of installations and sculptures, producing striking and idiosyncratic pieces. A cursory inspection of works such as Keil I/ II and BORDERWALLPROTOTYPES would suggest a genuine representation of pieces of wall. Walls are strong and stable. Yet, appropriately for the times we find ourselves in, Eichler has created a crucial gap between our perception of the wall and the reality of the wall.
Eichler appropriates our expectations of what a “wall” is and how it should function. Externally identical to a genuine concrete wall, Eichler’s walls are simply artifices, they are made of papier-mâché. Eichler says, “the papier-mâché-imprints imply wall and wall pieces, but are contrary to their functionality”. This is key to her work. The materials Julia uses mimic concrete walls. In fact, they are diametrically opposed to concrete, both in terms of utility and functionality.
In Eichler’s work, the method and materials are as intrinsic to the meaning and impact of her art as the finished piece itself. Julia intrepidly visits abandoned industrial buildings, disused schools or anywhere that bears the marks of human influence and intervention. She has developed a process allowing her to mould, and duplicate these abandoned sites. Julia uses papier-mâché to create an impression. She considers her facsimiles “archives”, caches of these abandoned and derelict buildings. Her artwork is a reflection of human progress. Our buildings give insight into our priorities, our intentions and lifestyle.
When we look upon a purported concrete wall, we do not only see a physical object, but we have a set of assumptions about the attributes of the wall. Eichlers’s sculptures provide the image of a wall, but not the attributes. Her walls are not heavy, unmoving and forbidding, but are rather “Light, and soft”, malleable and flexible.
Important to note is that Eichler’s walls are not mere replicas, but directly contradict the purpose and identity of a wall by being delicate, light and pliant. This creates what Julia calls a “deconstruction of reality”. The expectations and prejudices that are present when we view her walls are deconstructed and dissipated when the reality of her creations are realised. Perhaps we cannot trust Eichler’s sculptures in a conventional sense, yet they still provide a comforting reassurance. With reality deconstructed, possibilities are opened up. Imagination is freed. The wall is soft when it should be hard, light when it should be heavy. In a world where things we believe to be true are challenged, perhaps, like Eichler’s sculptures, we should free ourselves from the limits of perception and allow our imaginations to provide clarity and direction.
written by Ben Gosling