Shows / Expositions  | Projects / projets  | La Verrière, Bruxelles  | Méthode Room, Chicago  | Workshop / Ateliers  | Texts / Textes  | Interviews / Entretiens  | INFO




>> La Verrière, Bruxelles

Laura Lamiel : Chambres de Captures
La Verrière Hermès, Brussels, 2015



Chambre de Captures


L’ESPACE DU DEDANS, SÉQUENCE I, II, III, 2014, Various items, variable dimensions, view of the installation for the group exhibition La Vie Domestique, Parc Saint Léger, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Pougues-les-Eaux, 2014-2015.
© Photo : Aurélien Mole

French artist Laura Lamiel is staging her first show in Belgium, as the guest of La Verrière : a vast installation entitled Chambres de capture, created especially for the gallery. The piece is a tensile response to the space of La Verrière as a whole, deploying Lamiel’s characteristic visual vocabulary in the form of a landscape of cells, which the visitor is invited to explore. Found objects, raw materials, off-cuts and manufactured products, furniture and accessories are carefully placed in a sensitive, sensuous arrangement that plays, too, on our perception of emptiness. Deceptively simple, based on intuition and intent in equal measure, Laura Lamiel’s work is haunted by hidden references ranging from Minimalism to the world of literature, via Surrealism, the sentimental conceptualism of artists like Marcel Broodthaers, and the most radically materialist currents in today’s emerging sculpture scene. Divergent whispers that in no way counter the impression of formal and intellectual coherence underpinning her work. Understated in its complexity, showing exemplary intelligence and poeticism in its strategic approach to the multiplication of layers and perspectives, the delicate art of revealing and concealing in a single gesture, Laura Lamiel’s work explodes our perception and affects in multiple, contradictory directions. Meaning is deliberately fragile, held in suspense, while her chosen title – Chambres de capture – resonates with specific concerns at the core of her work as a whole : spatial relationships (internal and external), photography (capturing the moment) and the realm of the psyche (trauma, enclosure). Indeed, Laura Lamiel’s work proposes a variety of original modes of ‘capture’ : petrification, or precipitation (in the chemical sense of an affective or mental ‘precipitate.’)


FIGURE II, 2001, steel, wood, various items,175 x 125 x 5 cm
© Photo : Aurélien Mole


FIGURE II [détail], 2001, steel, wood, various items, 175 x 125 x 5 cm
© Photo : Aurélien Mole

Laura Lamiel produces photographs (on paper or steel), drawings and installations, yet her work remains fundamentally sculptural. Invariably, her practice is defined by its spatial perspective : objects and materials are arranged in the studio to reflect formal tensions or chromatic kinships (often white, but sometimes also black or orange), varied layers of textures, the play of horizontality or verticality, light and shade, gravity and equilibrium, opacity and transparency. Her practice borrows from Minimalism (monochrome paints, crayons and flat tints, the use of industrial materials), but this is a very much a composite minimalism, spilling over into figuration, Surrealism, even a kind of clandestine Expressionism. A breath of poetry that subverts the dogmatic rigour of the tutelary figures of the historic tradition in art. White, indeed, but absolutely not white alone. This is precisely where the subliminal influence exerted by Laura Lamiel on a number of young artists (subconscious and unacknowledged on both sides) operates, beyond the dialectical cut-off of Minimalism, through a quiet radicalisation of its foundations. But how ? Quite simply, her sheer confidence in the physicality of her materials obviates any need to sublimate them by working on a monumental scale, or through cropping and framing alone.
Eschewing the lyrical celebration of matter in art, Laura Lamiel offers a critical engagement with her materials, exhibiting the flip side of her installations, her own uncertainties, the tools and structures underpinning her work, its fragilities and strengths. She shows a profound faith in the intrinsic quality of objects with the power to transcend their own identities, having no recourse to some external authority. And this humility in the face of her raw materials brings an added fascination of its own : exposing the practicalities and workings of her pieces is the best way to conceal their true essence and usher in an element of mystery.


Chambre de Captures, détail II

Laura Lamiel’s installations are assemblages rather than constructions. The elements seem carefully arranged, though we cannot quite identify the organising principle behind their associations. Her practice might very well be seen as symptomatic of an obsessive syndrome – the irresistible urge to classify – were it not for the fact that the objects seem to be arranged for themselves, rather than for our inspection. To be arranged by themselves, by some objectival selfdiscipline, even. Laura Lamiel’s work is, in effect, devoid of theatricality or ‘exhibitionism’, but suffused with a kind of benevolent autism, an indifference that defines its distance from the viewer. Distancing and desirability are of the essence here. Photography, pedestals, vitrines, frames, transparency and reflections constantly re-focus our attention on the nature of the visible world, as demonstrated by the objects staged in the artist’s studio (at one remove from the viewer), then photographed (at two removes), and finally placed on flat mounts heightened with pencil and other materials. As demonstrated, too, by the precise use of space as a compositional plane on which structures appear behind or in front of one another, like architectonic and sculptural palimpsests. And as demonstrated by the flat expanses of colour that make objects both disappear beneath a welter of generous non-differentiation, and de-materialise, as if transformed by the workings of dreams. This distancing, and this process of sedimentation, are not only visual but conceptual, in an effort to multiply the piece’s possible layers of meaning, so that a dense network of hidden, potential meanings accumulates in successive strata of absence. Laura Lamiel’s work is full of blind spots, drawers, spaces ‘off’, concealed areas. A representation of the world’s reverse side ? Compartments for the storage of memories, perhaps, in the tradition of the Antique Ars memoriae (the art of memory), which involved the construction of the most complex mental architecture possible, the better to store away facts the individual wishes to remember, each of which could be retrieved by tracing a mental path to their location.
We may detect a hint of fantasy in Laura Lamiel’s work, however this fantasy originates not outside reality, but within it, at the very heart of ordinary things. It lies in the particular attention accorded to the immediate object, a ‘foreign body’ with which we establish and maintain a constant, unconscious flux of affects, creating a sudden distance that throws our sensibility into a tailspin : a very specific relationship between the viewer’s gaze, the object and the surrounding space, weaving a tissue of invisible links between the artwork and the world of psychoanalysis, by way of Freud’s ’disturbing strangeness’ – an unclear, unresolved relationship to the inert ‘thing’. The recurring motifs in Lamiel’s work – mirrors, transparency, the absences of the body, labyrinthine architecture, spaces of inner confinement, duplication as a multiplication of the identity – touch on complex aspects of the psyche, though they are never clearly enunciated other than in sculpture.

Laura Lamiel’s art shows preciosity and modesty all at once. It is ‘precious’ in the original sense of venerable, and modest in that it gives respectful consideration to things, regardless of their origin. Lamiel enacts a political stance with regard to objects, through her categorical refusal to establish hierarchies, and her determination to organise things on the basis of their ‘social mixity.’ Lamiel’s work exists at the heart of this affective flux (though never determined by it). As if rising above any attempt at interpretation, it eludes specific, reductive readings. As such, it stands with those great works of art whose rigor and simplicity open our imaginations ; whose rich, allusive quality in no way detracts from their precision and detail. Works such as these operate by subtraction rather than demonstration, through power rather than force. It is in this sense that Lamiel’s oeuvre justifies its inclusion in the series Gesture, and thought at La Verrière, exploring to a diffuse, subtle, ‘alternative’ line of descent from Marcel Duchamp.

Guillaume Désanges







crédit photo : © Isabelle Arthius


Download the exhibition journal here :

Zip - 602.2 ko