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Julie van der Vaart

(Maastricht, The Netherlands, 1988)

—Installation Celler Cooperatiu de Rubí (Map)

In 1417, the Italian humanist Poggio Bracciolini discovered, in the library of a secluded monastery in southern Germany, the manuscript of a great forgotten work. This was De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things), the poem by the Roman philosopher Lucretius which explores both the atomist theory of Democritus and the materialistic worldview of Epicurus. These combined to provide an explanation of the universe and to establish philosophy of human life that rejected the fear of gods and death. The structure of reality was formed by atoms, the void and nothing else. The book influenced the cultural and ideological change that led to modernity and current scientific theories.

In his book Reality Is Not What It Seems, Carlo Rovelli, one of the physicists who established the theory of loop quantum gravity, writes: “There is no finality, no purpose in this endless dance of atoms has no purpose, no purpose. We, just like the rest of the natural world, are one of the many products of this infinite dance”.

The photographer Julie Van der Vaart employed this quotation in the presentation of her work The dance. In it, a series of cyanotypes on Japanese Kozo paper reflect the inner conflict of the artist, who oscillates between her passion for science and her spiritual needs, which she sometimes represses.

Cyanotype is a monochrome photographic process used to produce prints in Prussian blue. Interestingly, it was invented by the English astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842, while it was the botanist Anna Atkins who quickly adopted the technique, which she used to document ferns and other plants.

Julie Van der Vaart applies this technical-scientific procedure to demonstrate the physical materiality of her work based on experimentation with analogue image development techniques.

Her themes are the subjectivity of time, the immensity of the universe, mortality, nature, science and the search for spirituality.

This series features photographs of cosmic significance and a clearly timeless effect: fragments of naked bodies that seem to fade into space, and eternal landscapes beyond the limits of time. An indissoluble yet evanescent nature.