Estrid Lutz is a French artist born 1989 living and working in Mexico. Crashes, the ocean, and advanced technological materials were the founding interests which lead her to study at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, and then in Art Center College of Design Los Angeles, CA, USA, before graduating with honours in 2016. Lutz’s earliest artistic works could be seen as violent explorations of the surfaces where human interaction with non-human occurs, and effect takes place. All artworks embody her reoccurring interest in the concepts of the natural and the technological, often finding emotional or empathetic connections as well as physical touch-points between the two. In 2018, Lutz was included in Crash Test: the molecular turn at La Panacée, Montpellier, curated by the esteemed curator Nicolas Bourriaud, known for his work with relational aesthetics. The exhibition text stated: “The art of the 2010s seems to have integrated the notion of the Anthropocene, which designates an era dominated by human activities and their impact on the planet.” Crash Test: the molecular turn, a title inspired by Lutz’s work, identified her as an artist as moving past binary dichotomies of ‘real’ and ‘digital’, ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’, and aligned her with established contemporaries including Alice Channer, Roger Hiorns, and Artie Vierkant. However Lutz also sees things the other way around, she explores not only our post-digital condition through an anthropogenic lens but how much of human technology is informed by nature. Her use of aluminum honeycomb, a material commonly used for the construction of satellites is an obvious example. Since 2018, Lutz has lived and worked in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico where she found the perfect environment to develop her work in by observing the rough natural environment of Zicatela, one of the most dangerous surf beaches in the world. In Puerto Escondido, Lutz has continued her research into biological organisms and ecosystems, and how humans and their technological materials are inspired by, interact with, and have an effect on these. Several experiments have had a direct relationship with the waves and beach: A hands-on approach that tests the boundaries of what’s possible. Explorations include being flown over the waves and between whirlwinds in an Ultralight Aircraft to drop drawings and flowers into the ocean, having artworks taken out to sea on her behalf and documented in the pipelines, and burying the edges of large lenticular, photo-luminescent, and sun-sensitive works in the sand. Lutz’s practice embodies the blurring of dichotomies, investigating the interactions between the human-technological (science, polystyrene, aircraft) on the one hand, and the forces of nature on the other (pipelines, whirlwinds, animals) with sensitivity to emotional communication. In face of something more powerful than us, what is the significance of dropping flowers into giant waves? During the pandemic, with the beach closed and few tourists, Lutz witnessed Puerto Escondido become a place for the non-human again. Turtles and crocodiles came back in abundance, hundreds covered the sand that for decades has been a place dominated by towels, sun-blocked bodies, and plastic toys in varied shapes and sizes. In her work, Estrid continues to question the empathetic relationship, gratitude, and respect for the non-human that we have the capacity for while embracing our fantastical drive for technological advancement. She acknowledges wholeness or inclusion inherent to our deep interconnectedness while not ‘returning to nature’, rather including it in progressive, expansive development.
Text by Ché Zara Blomfield.