Paris-based visual artist Julien Langendorff has been something of a creative nomad in the past. “I’ve been working in studios and installations and collages and paintings,” he explains, having shown work at Paris’ Agnès b. gallery, and made a collection of books. For the past couple of years, however, he has been focusing his attention on collage, transforming vintage books from the 70s and 80s into surrealist compositions which are in turn mystical, erotic and obscure.
His newest project, a monographic publication entitled Gutter Magik which will compile the work he has created over the past three years, is due to be released in January, published by musician and Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore with his 2009-founded art book press, Ecstatic Peace Library.
It might seem an odd collaboration, but in music aficionado Langendorff’s eyes it came about very organically. “We’ve known each other for three or four years,” the artist explains. “I had a show in NYC in 2012 and I invited him to read some of his poetry at an event at the gallery, and we kind of stayed in touch. At some point he mentioned that he was interested in publishing my work with his company.” The downside to publishing a book with a musician, he explains, is finding time to piece it together. “He’s often on tour, so it’s taking a bit longer. We have to work on it whenever he’s back."
Recently this body of work has taken on a darker undertone, Julien explains, and that’s largely to do with an unusual living situation he has found himself in. “For the past few years I’ve been living in a very weird flat, which is actually haunted. It’s kind of like a horror film really, because I’ve been trying to move away but I can’t find another place, so I’m stuck here.
“A few months ago I had a psychic come here,” he continues. “He was working with a pendulum, and he told me some crazy things – for example, he told me there was a gateway to the abyss in my flat. It sounds insane, I know, but he told me there were some weird spectres, some other dimensions making their way in here. I’ll joke about it with my friends, they say ‘I’m coming over to the abyss!’ but he was really creepy.” This paranormal influence manifests itself in gothic undertones, monochrome colour pallets and an ethereal, almost ghostly visual language. “The past two months I’ve been working a lot in black and white, and with lots of glitter and silver and spray paint, so there I guess the spectres are a little bit present.”
Publishing a book of his works presents a creative dilemma for Langendorff, whose intimacy with his creative process throws up some hurdles. “It’s so personal that sometimes it’s very difficult, to an extent, to show your work. Recently I’m not so happy even to sell them, I wish I could keep them.” Even so, he’s excited to see how the book is received come its publication in January. I’m really happy to be able to see the works in a book,” he explains. “I’m super lucky to be able to do that.”
Gutter Magik by Julien Langendorff will be released in January 2015