Dylan Gauthier: highwatermarks, the first US solo museum project by the Brooklyn-based artist Dylan Gauthier (b. 1979, Los Angeles), centers on an immersive video and audio installation that was planned, filmed, and edited during the artist’s year-long residency at the Brandywine River Museum of Art which focused on key aspects of the Brandywine Conservancy’s activities.
With highwatermarks (2017), the artist transforms the Museum’s third-floor gallery into a 4-channel, 4K video installation with accompanying multi-channel original sound composition–narrating the path of the Brandywine River and documenting the local communities through which it flows.
Shot on location in the Brandywine Watershed and surrounding region, the project traces the river’s headwaters among the farms of the Honey Brook Township, through industrial towns like Coatesville and the rolling hills of Chadds Ford, to the public water supply to the city of Wilmington, Delaware. highwatermarks presents the river and its people through four seasons, blending views from the Brandywine landscape with on-water shots filmed from a small boat constructed by the artist earlier in his residency.
Combining video, sculpture, performance and digital media, Gauthier examines representations of nature and the environment alongside with society’s relationship to policy, literature, and care.
Over the course of his year-long residency project, highwatermarks, the artist has engaged with the Brandywine as a public site and investigates the relationships between image and landscape, policy and ecology, and culture, community and conservation in the Brandywine River region. highwatermarks is a micro level investigation of environmental issues that affect rivers and streams throughout the world while acting responsively to the river itself, and evolving in shape over the artist’s year-long collaboration with the Brandywine River Museum of Art.
The artist writes: The video is at once a portrait of place, the Brandywine River region, and an ethnographic portrait of the community of people who live there, use the river, and find themselves drawn to it. It is also a portrait of the Brandywine Conservancy staff who work in concert with local communities and with local and regional governments to preserve and protect this place. Brandywine means many things to many different people; hopefully the film can share a little bit from each of them to each of them. In our current moment of global ecological uncertainty and increasing evidence of the human hand in shaping nature and climate, I was interested in focusing on the Brandywine as a site that has been made and remade continually over successive epochs of human ingenuity and discovery, and through engineering, agriculture, manufacturing, and now tourism. While a river like the Brandywine may appear to be a natural system, human beings are inextricably linked to that natural system – we might attribute this human hand to a history of environmental degradation. At the same time, the work of the Conservancy shows that through stewardship and preservation this might also have a positive impact.
Workers Leaving the Museum, 2011/2
Video installation, participatory research inquiry into labor at MassMoCA, broadsheets, skin-on-frame kayak constructed with museum workers.
Workers Leaving the Museum (2011) is a video and sculptural installation resulting from a year-long investigation into labor at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, MA.
Inspired by the Lumières Brothers’ 1895 film, Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon, in which the filmmakers turned their cameras on their own workers as they leave the worksite. In the process, the worker is effectively recast as the first film actor in their moment between work and leisure time. Workers Leaving the Museum, turns the regard of the cultural institution back upon itself, and to follow museum workers beyond their work on the “production lines” of the cultural factory, to register their comportment as they are leaving the museum, and to inquire about their role in the creation of culture.
The project was presented this Summer at MASS MoCA as one of three pieces commissioned by James Voorhies of Bureau for Open Culture for the exhibition “I am Searching for Field Character.”