Julie Gautier-Downes was born in San Diego and relocated to New York City in 2001, prompting her bi-coastal identity and interest in perceptions of home. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2011 and her Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2014.
In 2015, Gautier-Downes was an Artist in Residence at the Vermont Studio Center. She currently resides in Spokane, Washington. She has exhibited across the United States and in the United Kingdom.
Gautier-Downes’ current studio practice is the investigation of somatic traces left in barren landscapes that become artifacts of the past. The domestic vestiges that now haunt these spaces are transformed into a narrative waiting to be deciphered. Her process involves documenting deserted houses and abandoned items that allude to the home and family. The spaces she records seem to be in a perpetual state of disarray, imbuing the notion that a single event stimulated the need for the inhabitants to leave hastily. Gautier-Downes re-frames each scene into her rendition of the stories each space unveils. The accounts she relays reveal the trauma each housing structure suffers as it slowly decomposes into the environment as well as the physicality of displacement.
At A Loss
In any given landscape there are moments, which tell a story about a place and the people that dwell there. In a metropolis or a ghost town these moments of loneliness and abandonment that can be looked over or forgotten. It is in these spaces that there is an opportunity to see and understand the world in a different way. By exploring, collecting and photographing the world as an archaeologist or detective gives intensity to the seemingly banal and ordinary.
The absence of the human figure in the work provides a space for the viewer to project themselves into the desolate and abandoned environments that are captures. By pairing photographs of these deserted and abandoned environments with found personal items it provides fertile ground for narratives to emerge. The items ollected are items one might find in a family album or desk drawer and provides a strong connection to the missing figure.
The types of spaces that are captured range greatly from the haunted skeletal frame of a failed dream house to a forgotten city by a manmade sea that has a vibrant past. The ghostly representation of the locations exposes moments of quietness, sadness, and abandonment. In some cases these places are desolate due to a tragedy or economic down turn and the images and collected items speak to the way in which it happened.
It is the universality of loss that allows the viewer to find the beauty in these abandoned spaces and objects. With the hope that it enlightens them to see how sublime life is and how connected we are to each other.
To see more of Julie’s photographs, please visit her website.