Pictura Gallery

Charles Xelot | Single Image Crush

June 27, 2024| curatorial

CXX 5644

This image terrifies me. It was not necessarily the first one that caught my eye when going through Charles Xelot’s series, White Water. However, it continues to have a visceral effect on me, no matter how many times I see it. This project follows ice breakers and tankers as they transport oil and natural gas across the arctic. The photographs convey the harsh beauty of the sea and the imposing nature of these gargantuan vessels that traverse it.

When I look at this image, I feel as if I am stationed on the bow of the boat, gazing upwards as it tips forward into the dark. Perhaps it shows how precarious this whole endeavor is– tiny humans clinging to the perceived safety of big boats. When moored, these massive metal bodies look like impermeable sets of armor. I imagine them as fierce metallic sea creatures that can rip their way through water. However, when placed in the vastness of the arctic sea and ice, the scale shifts and suddenly they appear small, vulnerable. They bob tenuously on the surface of the sea. This thin layer provides a fragile margin of safety between the deep vortex of ocean below and colossal, stormy sky above.

And so, perhaps the thing that scares me the most is that I see both a sailing ship and a sunken ship at the same time. I am not sure if I am being led forward into dark, icy winds. Or, if I am resting in a silent swirl of marine snow on the ocean floor below.

- Mia Dalglish

Charles Xelot is the 2024 winner of the prestigious Life Framer Series Award, juried by Pictura Gallery’s Co-Curators, Mia Dalglish and Lisa Woodward.

See full exhibition info here.

Xelot Install 49 I8640 02

Installation from solo exhibition of White Water at Pictura