Gaudin’s sculptural worlds are populated by machines with less than their fair share of loving grace. They tend to dismantle themselves, run in circles, and evince inner conflict through wild fluctuations of stasis and turmoil. Such is the case in Climax Change. The exhibition is organized around two central kinetic sculptures. One periodically sends a fake fern plant, mounted on a Looney Tunes-worthy mechanical arm, hurtling out of an elevated patch of ferns. It crashes into an acrylic panel wall. Another sculpture, a rolling landscape composed of two fake cypress trees, smashes the trees together in self-destructive outbursts—or is the gesture more onanistic? The mechanical actions skirt this line between self-harming and self-pleasuring, activating the parts of our brains that can’t help but ascribe a human framework over the nonhuman world around us.
Hanging over these kinetic works is an arching fibreglass sky, hoisted with rope and pulley over the scene like the set of a stripped-down modernist play. All of the works in Climax Change engage in a kind of performativity, sometimes suggested and sometimes actual. The landscape extends to the walls, too, where chromed aluminium sculptures hint at the artist’s physicality in wrestling the sheets of metal into crumpled fields of action. Again, these pieces are full of ambiguity, balanced between play and struggle. Throughout the exhibition, humour acts as a conduit for human empathy, leading the viewer into a cul-de-sac of realization: that our projections of anthropomorphic sympathy are indeed just projections, falling on the fundamental otherness of these objects’ mechanical nature. They suggest, in the words of Gaudin, “a warning against our colonial instincts, our need to spread, our need to fabricate a world in our image.”