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Visual artist and choreographer Célia Gondol brings astrophysics to Holding Textile Hermès as she explores the connections between the mysteries of the universe and the production and printing of silk. Three works created at the site take a fresh look at artisan skills through the prism of science.
In residence at Holding Textile Hermès in Pierre-Bénite (near Lyon, France), Célia Gondol discovered the unique skills and rhythms associated with working in fine silk. In association with Hélène Courtois, a researcher at France’s nearby Institut nucléaire, Gondol also explored the cartography techniques used to map our expanding universe. These dynamic trajectories suggested the possibility of parallel universes, inspiring the artist’s own, personalised star maps, printed with the workshop artisans’ help, on a 35-metre length of silk. This tribute to the infinitely vast movements of the stars is offset by a focus on the infinitely small, set quite literally in motion as part of a choreographic performance.
Mentored by Ann Veronica Janssens, Célia Gondol created a second work to mark the end of her residency: a film of the official visite of her length of silk (when the piece is studied front and back, with the naked eye). The printed silk star maps are inspected by an expert artisan, while the voiced commentary is by scientist Hélène Courtois, delivering a dizzying account of the fine detail on the printed silk, and the vastness of the universe.
Célia Gondol is accustomed to working across boundaries: a graduate of the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris, she is also a trained contemporary dance teacher. Her residency led to a third unusual work in woven copper – an extraordinary technical challenge for the artisans. Silk muslin with a copper weft produces a new textile, vibrant and shimmering thanks to the presence of the metal: a hybrid work displayed with specially designed lighting, sublimating its beauty.