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Lieven Lefere         

Nothing is more visible than things hidden         

19 April 2019 to 22 June 2019


This solo exhibition shows a series of works that are part of an extensive research around the Mausoleum of Ho-Chi-Minh, the former Vietnamese Communist leader. However, the concrete political context is not the reason why this place is used as a starting-point for this long-term project. Stripped of its historical context, the mausoleum is used to reflect on the status of the (photographic) image and the interrelation between photography, memory and history. The artist uses, among other things, meticulous reconstructions of parts of the building. Where he previously reconstructed the central inner space on the basis of memories, he now focuses his attention on the portal as a transition area between the inner and outer space in the monumental work Nothing is more visible than things hidden. The way he is operating though remains the same; he reconstructs an architectural construction on a 1:1 scale on the basis of archival material in which existing parts are reshaped, replaced or purified.

For this series, Lefere put an extra emphasis on the effects that are created through and by light, as well as on the physical carrier of the photographic image. Every work in this exhibition is activated by a reflective element. Be it directly, as with the dimly lit letters in the reconstruction of the portal of the mausoleum, or through the shimmering metal in the work Measuring Hand. Or be it indirectly, as in the Two-Way Mountain and Bonheur series, where he alters the image through reflections that are applied during the process of re-photographing existing images. The light that makes matter visible in one place conceals it in another place through its reflection. The appearance and disappearance of the image is one of the central themes in the artist's oeuvre. The absence of the embalmed body, which is normally at the center of the mausoleum serves here as a symbol and is also reflected in the work Bonheur, a precise reconstruction of a historical object. This 19th century object, the stretched skin of a human who was skinned after his death because of his exotic features, was mounted on a wooden support and was probably used as part of a traveling cabinet of curiosities. Lefere reconstructed this support structure on a 1:1 scale and depicted it using the photogram technique. By solely focusing on the carrier he creates a void that is filled by the nerves of the wood and the dark drops on the skin of the photographic paper which evoke the absent body of this unfortunate 19th century man.

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