artists share messages of hope: as the population of italy, and many other parts of the world, continue to endure lockdown conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, designboom — whose headquarters is in milan — has reached out to artists to share messages of hope with our readers worldwide. following dedications by olafur eliasson and david shrigley, french swiss artist julian charrière has drawn by hand a message of hope into the sanded dust of a globe from the 60s, referencing his earlier work ‘we are all astronauts’.

julian charrière shares a message of hope during coronavirus lockdown
julian charrière shared a message of unity that relates to his 2013 work ‘we are all astronauts’



charrière has travelled to some of the most remot regions of the planet, researching geology, biology, physics, history and archaeology. the title of the work, ‘we are all astronauts’, is inspired by the writing of architect visionary buckminster fuller, and is composed of world globes stripped clean of their geographic information. dating from 1890 to 2011, the artist sanded away the globes’ varying successive and shifting geopolitical contours using ‘international sandpaper’ created with mineral samples from all U.N. recognized countries, which the artist originally created in his previous works, monument – sedimentation of floating worlds (2013). dust created by the abrasion gently settles beneath the globes, creating new, yet-to-be-defined cartographies. the globes are rendered as useless as their carefully drawn territories in an increasingly globalized world bound less and less by borders.

julian charrière shares a message of hope during coronavirus lockdown
we are all astronauts, 2013 | centre culturel suisse, paris, france, 2014
image © the artist; VG bild-kunst, bonn, germany



michelle nicol in conversation with julian charrière about the work, and his dedication:


what do you love most about buckminster fuller?


julian charrière (JC): he was a true ground-breaking visionary! I have some problems with his concept of earth as a spaceship rather than living matter as this is such an anthropocentric utilitarian concept, yet I still can’t help but love this image of us all together flying through space at ungraspable velocity.


did you write your message physically into the globe dust or digitally?


JC: my message was written into the dust of a sanded world globe from the late 60s by hand.

julian charrière shares a message of hope during coronavirus lockdown



where are you currently working from?


JC: I was extremely lucky to be able to self-isolate in zuoz, one of the nicest villages of the engadin in the swiss alps.


what’s your favorite part of the day?


JC: after lunch, I go on my daily hike up-hill. spring has not arrived up here yet, but the snow is melting fast, slowly releasing the scent of the wet forest floor buried underneath it. I rediscovered what a luxury it is to be able to be outside and how this slowdown allows me to recalibrate with my surrounding.  

julian charrière shares a message of hope during coronavirus lockdown



what’s the next project you are looking forward to?


JC: I am using my current confinement to focus on my upcoming publication ‘towards no eathly pole’ — a book summarising three years of work in both polar regions to be published on the occasion of three parallel exhibitions at masi lugano, aargauer kunsthaus and the dallas musuem of art.