Juls Gabs

The Grateful Animals 2023

Juls Gabs discovers in Watou the local dialect, traditional signs and expressions and the history hidden in them. The fact that the dialect is gradually disappearing inspires her to create her installation The Grateful Animals. This consists of a large, digital painting, printed on canvas, in which she uses the fairy tale of the same name from ‘Grootmoederken’ by Johan Wilhelm Wolf (1842), a German writer translated into Flemish at the time.

When she visits the festival in 2022, Gabs makes frequent use of Google Translate to translate the exhibition texts. In doing so, the automatic translator constantly makes curious constructions that reminds Gabs of the misunderstandings that can occur when a language is forgotten or unfamiliar. Her installation is therefore an experiment on the extent to which we can trust translated texts when the dialect is lost. At the same time, her work is a fine example of a hybrid, in which the digital meets the analogue to preserve a heritage. Moreover, in the fairy tale, humans and animals come to the rescue. So there is a focus on an exchange between the human and non-human in different ways.

In the painting Gabs shows the moment when the boy in the story comes to the aid of a lion, an eagle and an ant in their dilemma around the carcass of a dead donkey. All three want to eat from it but do not know how to go about it. The boy, despite the different size of the three, decides to divide the donkey into three equal pieces. In gratitude for solving their problem, the animals promise him their help in difficult times. Hidden in the painting is a digital QR code that gives access to a so-called Augmented Reality (AR) via a smartphone or tablet. The AR is based on the poem that Alara Adilow wrote for Juls Gabs. In it, the fight between the dragon and the boy is shown for which the boy requests the help of the animals.

At the end of the festival, the painting disappears but the AR remains in Watou and will be installed under the bridge in the Kerkhofstraat where it will remain accessible for ‘eternally’. By mixing the digital and traditional, Gabs hopes to create a graphic archive for future generations.

This QR gives access to the story ‘Grootmoederken’ by Johan Wilhelm Wolf (in Flemish dialect).

1989, UK

Foto: Yulia Lebedeva

Juls Gabs (San Sebastián, 1989) is a Painter and Digital Artist with a multidisciplinary approach that includes Augmented Reality, Social Media Art, Painting and NFTs. Currently working with galleries Mmad_art (London) and Onstream Gallery (Italy). She has developed her carrer in London for the last 7 years and recently moved to Boston MA where she continues with her practice.

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