Le Mal du Pays

Durst Britt and Mayhew Gallery / The Hague, Netherlands

Deeply held beliefs I-III. 2019
Deeply Held Beliefs III. 2019
Jesmonite, cast rubber, imitation leather, metal. 40x13,5x2,5cm
Deeply Held Beliefs VI. 2019
Jesmonite, cast rubber, imitation leather, metal. 40x13,5x2,5cm
Deeply Held Beliefs II. 2019
Jesmonite, cast rubber, imitation leather, metal. 40x13,5x2,5cm

The temporary nature of a text is also part of Lahuis' work entitled Deeply Held Beliefs. While visiting the exhibition, visitors are asked to wear a dry rubber stamp. The stamp is pressed onto the forearm such that the relief is transferred to the skin. The visitor leaves the gallery with a temporary tattoo. Over time, the text will disappear.

Luuk Hoogewerf, The Pain of the Country

Deeply Held Beliefs. 2019. Imprint on skin. 13,5 x 9 cm
Castillo de Matrera I. 2018.
Burned laserprints and Kozo Whisper Tissue on handmade cotton fiber paper. 118 x 92 cm
Installation view
No-Zeichen. 2019
Text rubbed in Denim. 190 x 145 cm

Since the use of typsetting in his clay tablets, he has been intrigued by pre-digital typeface specimens. In typography, a typeface is a set of one or more fonts each composed of glyphs that share common design features. Words on typeface specimens are usually meaningless: empty symbols judged by their physical characteristics. Lahuis uses text as an image. He looks for a cultural, political or emotional association that some of these words or phrases carry. The work NO-Zeichen is an enlarged copy of an existing German broadsheet rubbed in denim and simply says: No-Zeichen No No No No No No (etc.). No in typography could mean numero but is more often interpreted as an expression of the negative. The no in a referendum or the no of a protest for example. The text is made visible by laser-cut wooden letter that Lahuis placed behind the denim. By sanding the raised parts, a white print is created, comparable to the wear of your jeans by, for example, the mobile phone in your pocket.

Luuk Hoogewerf The Pain of the Country

Installation view

The blurring of (geographic) borders is the subject of the monumental clay tablets that Lahuis showed in the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics. During the exhibition, a constant flow of water eroded the text that was printed in the clay. The ultimate effect of the process is being shown in this exhibition. The text is a handmade enlarged copy of an article from science magazine Nature Communications about the geographic insularity of Britain from continental Europe. Britain was a peninsula before the breaching of the ridge that seperated the marine embayments to the north (North Sea) and southwest (English Channel) ... The text on the now fragile, dried tablets has almost become illegible, the English language in some parts being transformed into characters resembling Sumerian cuneiform. The tablets became relics of a bygone age - even though the article has only been published in 2017.

Luuk Hoogewerf The Pain of the Country

Two-stage opening of the Dover-Strait and the origin of Island Britain [1/12], detail
Imprinted Weald clay in aluminium frame. 250 x 110 x 35 cm
Two-stage opening of the Dover-Strait and the origin of Island Britain [1/12]. 2018-2019 Imprinted Weald clay in aluminium frame. 250 x 110 x 35 cm
Two-stage opening of the Dover-Strait and the origin of Island Britain [1/12], detail. 2018-2019
Imprinted Weald clay in aluminium frame. 250 x 110 x 35 cm
Installation view

Lahuis deploys a wide variety of print-related tools, techniques and materials to transform his subjects into meditations on time, temporality and transience. His recent works deal with reflections on topicality and can be seen as a continuation of these interests. Each work involves histories of erosion and transformation to emphasise a tension between integration and disintegration and captures a moment between appearance and disappearance, between material and legibility.

Durst Britt and Mayhew

Installation view
Ventimiglia II. 2018
Burned laserprint and Kozo Whisper Tissue on handmade cotton fiber paper. 80 x 60 cm
Bedazzled. 2019. Pulped laser prints on wall. Approximately 400 x 300 cm.

Q
What inspired your preoccupation with the materiality of photography in the new work you are presenting at Unseen?

A
My work often begins with an observation or a discovery I make in my studio, which I will then try to recreate. My ideas are usually to do with testing the material boundaries of photography and text. The work I am showing ... began when I was walking down the street on a rainy day and observed the disintegration of posters and cardboard after bikes and cars had driven over them. By the end of the day they formed what I refer to as ‘comets’ that spread out on the streets. The posters had previously carried information but throughout the day they were completely reduced to mere material. I am interested in ways that information is physically interacted with and how it is moved, used and disintegrated in daily life and in physical space. I tried to integrate this observation into my work.

Q
Tell us about the techniques you developed during the process.

A
I made my own tools, which are ink rollers covered with rubber mats. When I roll these over images they gradually break down until the image does not function as an image anymore – I try to get as close as possible to this breaking point. These techniques are ways to scale down the communication and circulation of information. I often use silkscreening, for example, which is a way to move from mechanical mass reproduction to a more manual form of reproduction in smaller quantities. I then use my own methods to further disintegrate them.

Interview with Unseen Magazine

Installation view
Two-stage opening of the Dover-Strait and the origin of Island Britain [2/12]. 2018-2019.
Imprinted Weald clay in aluminium frame. 350 x 120 x 35 cm
Castillo de Matrera II. 2018
Two double-sided sheets of handmade cotton fiber paper with burned laserprints and Kozo Whisper Tissue. 49 x 187 cm each
Castillo de Matrera II, detail. 2018.
Two double-sided sheets of handmade cotton fiber paper with burned laserprints and Kozo Whisper Tissue. 49 x 187 cm each

In 2016 an article was published that described a restoration technique for centuries old, burned paper. This technique was developed by the Anna Amalia library in Weimar, Germany after it was struck by a large fire in 2004 that had destroyed a large part of their collection of unique books and hand written sheet music. After the fire an international team of experts, as well as volunteers, worked together to save as much as they could from these (partially) destroyed books. This specific restoration technique for centuries old paper is applied to contemporary images in a series of prints that were made during three residencies in 2017 and 2018. These images show a variety of histories related to erosion and embody the tension between integration and disintegration.

The series of prints Castillo de Matrera take an emblematic ruin in the south of Spain as their point of departure. This ruin is situated between the two cities Cadiz and Malaga. The building was built by muslim conquerors in the 9th century and was off and on in the hands of European monarchs until the 14th century. This watch tower underwent a controversial restoration that resulted in a polemic debate. The building and its history were destroyed according to some and it was saved in an innovative way according to others. The technique with which the building was restored is the equivalent in architecture of the paper restoration technique with which these burned images and texts are restored.

In the double-sided print above, one side consists of a chapter from the book Spanish Islam: A history of the Moslems in Spain by Reinhart Dozy, that describes the biography of the military commander who commissioned this building. Contemporary online discourse about the controversy surrounding this ruin's restoration and the building in its current state can be seen on the other side. This work refers to the multi-faceted history of islam in Spain that is embodied in this building and the online discourse surrounding that history through digital media.

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