For Water tanks, Michel Gérard has been inspired by water tanks in New York, many of which are installed atop buildings, an important memory of the city that highlights the necessary presence of water as the staple of life for nature and living organisms. In the grounds of the Château de Chaumont, they have been made out of perforated metal and passers-by can thus see the natural scenery fairly clearly reflected in their surfaces.
Mirror-polished stainless steel plates vertically share the indoor circular space. Each 2-metre-high plate reflects the silhouette and image of whoever approaches it and, more clearly still, the nature surrounding them.
A short text is written halfway up each plate:
L’environnement à vivre
Plante un arbre
In just a few words, these texts conjure up a necessary constructive dialogue with the environment, trees and water that need preserving as they are steadily losing ground on our planet.
The Water tanks placed near the historic water tower forge a link with the latter – alluding to the ones found in large cities like New York and to the development of life in historic times and different places and, by extension, the life that comes about in a much vaster time.
Michel Gérard has produced environmental exhibits, primarily working with forged steel on a large scale, in France, Germany, Korea, Italy, Greece, Israel and the United States.
In the 1980s, his work was put on display by two historic galleries: Galerie Jeanne Bucher in Paris and Max Hutchinson Gallery in New York.
In New York in 1989, Michel Gérard began using a wide variety of materials in his work, such as glass, sand, rubber as well as photographs and video projections. By distancing himself from his homeland he was able to work with the memory of his childhood spent in Paris during the Occupation of World War II. This culminated in three projects displayed in Germany, the Czech Republic and France as well as the publication of a book, Rue de Leningrad, the name of the street where he lived during this period. The experience of this research brought him back to his favourite cartoons when he was a boy. Accordingly, several projects are rooted in Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay, as well as the sculpture L’enfance de l’art, exhibited on the esplanade of the Musée d’Art Contemporain with his exhibition at Galerie des Ponchettes in Nice in 2008. A retrospective exhibition Signature Transformations: 2009 – 1972 at Tours Château in 2009 followed on from these exhibitions.
Gérard’s recent work, which makes use of materials like coffee, couscous and lentils, has materialised out of his childhood memory of “Rationing”, but also touches on the global food crisis today.