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Lieven Lefere

Great Mountains Remember Me

12 March to 7 May 2016

When, after times of great abundance, a time of crisis looms, one will also find these circumstances reflected in the arts. It often goes along with a sense of sobriety and a return to the essentials- a concentration on the transience of the human being and the fragility of our lives. The 20’s of the 17th century, with the emergence of the vanitas still life, were such a period, and i wouldn’t hesitate to count our times of late capitalism into this.  With the still perceptible repercussions of the financial crisis of late, as well as all other crisis that arose over the past years, Europe especially is put in quite a precarious position and this also transcends into our cultural life. One can observe this in the countless editorials of Zeitgeist magazines that seem to get their inspiration in the Old Masters.

In his exhibition „Great mountains remember me“ Lefere also evokes a rather somber atmosphere, though, in accordance with his earlier produced works, his approach  includes an analytical and architectural note.

The work Hole and the series C.B. and B.P. communicate on a meta-level. For these works the photographer travels to places that are used for simulations. Those places are ontologically double, at once real and unreal. Hole was photographed at a research facility where scientists study possibilities to better identify corpses, disinterred  from mass graves. In the Series C.B. and G.P. Lefere documents the work of scientists who use objects that simulate the characteristics of the human skull. The topic of their research is the impact that projectiles have which are fired at the head. This is not just confined to modern firearms, they also help facilitate archeological studies by doing research with crossbows and musketes as well.

La raison des ombres is the central work of this exhibition. It depicts the interior of the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, located in Hanoi. After the Vietnam War the new leaders tried to unify the war torn country. They did so by creating a personality cult around the deceased former chairman Ho Chi Minh, who was embalmed and put on display in the newly errected Mausoleum (against his testamentary will, in which he decreed to be cremated). Since it is forbidden to document the building from the inside, Lefere built a 1:3 scale model of the interior in his studio. As this reconstruction is only based on eye-witness reports and memories it is obviously an abstraction of the real space, but he also included one element that doesn’t exist in the building. The vertikal zip in the central wall was included as a reference to the horizon theme in his former works I never promised you a horizon and A more elevated scene (Looking West). With  these works he refers to an anecdote Le Corbusier told: while hiking along the coast in Brittany he suddenly passed a vertical cliff. Le Corbusier describes this moment as kind of an epiphany: „Between my eyes and the horizon a sensational event has occurred; a vertical rock, in granite, is there, upright, like a menhir: its vertical makes a right angle with the horizon. Crystallisation fixation of the site. This is a place to stop, because here is a complete symphony, magnificent relationships, nobility. The vertical gives the meaning of the horizontal. One is alive because of the other. Such are the powers of synthesis.“   In his work Lefere reverses the principal of the horizon. In contrast to landscapes artists who were delving in the horizont he emphasis  the vertical line, only offering a small glimpse on the landscape and leaving the rest to the imagination of the spectator.


Lieven Leferes work was selected by the GAA Foundation to be presented in the official program during the Architectural Biennale in Venice 2016.

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