Gallery USF continues this spring´s focus on the book as a medium for contemporary art production by launching the latest project by French artist Lea Lagasse. Lagasse extensively uses books as an arena for her artistic practice. With the use of digressions and complex layers of texts, the work draws upon afragmented perception in which processes of interpretation, misunderstanding and misreadings play a great part.

Naufrage (Wreckage) reproduces Stéphane Mallarmé's poem ‘Un Coup de Dé Jamais N'abolira le Hasard' (A throw of the dice will never abolish chance, 1914). By reducing the legibility of the written word to that of a typographic pattern. Mallarmé laid out a book made of fragments, inventing a format that corresponded to his own elliptical writing.

This edition maintains the original positioning of the poem on the pages, but instead of leaving the surrounding page bare, they appear entirely covered by meaningless lines of letters. In this puzzle like grid, the verses are dissimulated, engulfed by the rows of characters, emerging only momentarily when the ‘text' is scrutinised. The piece formally echoes the poem's theme of the constellation and the shipwreck. Close to Guy de Cointet's systems of cryptography, Naufrage emphasises the moment of divergence between the text as image and as concept, back and forth between the picture plane and glimpses of meaning.

Léa Lagasse will also present other projcts and books in addition to Naufrage.

Léa Lagasse's practice investigates our relationship to reality and the authenticity of its experience. In her work, existing objects and situations are replaced by one's imaginary perception and subjective interpretation.

See Léa Lagasse´webpage for more work.

With the use of digressions and complex layers of texts, the work draws upon a fragmented perception in which processes of interpretation, misunderstanding and misreadings play a great part. This transformative process relies on free associations of ideas. The book titled Piggybacking reproduces some of Charles Baudelaire's poems in which are inserted additional texts on rotating wheels, using a series of cut-out windows. These allow the reader to replace fragments of the poems with critical interpretations of Baudelaire's work by other authors. The palimpsest structure of this piece mimics the way the mind wonders when confronted with the text, a process described Michel de Certeau for whom reading a book might produce an invention of memories (The Practice of Everyday Life, 1984). The mind of the reader is encouraged to negotiate a journey between different fragments of texts and thus to construct their own images and personal narratives.

Léa Lagasse‘s books are in that sense "meta-books", commentary on the original text, yet contained within that text. Each edition carries a specific ingenious layout or binding device destined to echo the original narrative. For instance Double Standard consists of a French folded edition of Raymond Roussel's Impressions of Africa (1910) where the book is presented with all but the last three French folds (leaf) cut open. The reader is still able to read the entire novel as on these final leaves the concluding part of Roussel's text is printed on their exterior. In contrast these pages hidden inside the fold have another text printed on them from Roussel's How did I write some of my books (1935), his ambiguous posthumous explanation of the technique he used to create his novels. This way, the book's physical qualities resonates with the writer's oeuvre, reverberating back and forth between the work and its analysis: "(Roussel's language) settled his permanent residence in the hidden double of the visible, in the visible double of the hidden." (Raymond Roussel, Michel Foucault, 1963)

Such appropriative techniques are recurrent in Lagasse's practice. For instance, the ever changing installation titled Me,me me (you)..., which was shown previously at the SMAK in Gent Belgium and at Super in Paris, is a showcase that displays different art pieces each occasion it is exhibited. The showcase is made from liquid crystal glass, which conceals the art piece due to its frosted appearance. At indeterminable junctures the piece inside the showcase is instantly revealed to the viewer for one second before the cabinet returns to its translucent state. In this case content and container become ambivalent actors of a game with the codes of display. Timing is key for the artist who captures the moment of slippage in comprehension, the shifting point that forces the viewer to renegotiate their perception of the world. The distorting process at work in Lagasse's practice is key to the performance Come Unstuck, during which a visual equivalent of a Freudian slip is imposed upon the viewer. A billboard workman glues a series of generic advertising posters, one on top of the other, during which suggestive phrases appear for momentary periods. Every time a new poster is stuck, there is one moment during the process where one part of the headline message lays on top of the preceding headline and creates a different word. This instantaneous apparition vanishes almost immediately as the worker completes the poster. The fragile set up orchestrates a moment of misperception, a fabricated slip of the tongue. In that same moment, the performance forces onto the viewer a projection of ‘clichés' of psychological life and in turn triggers one's own reflective process.

Léa Lagasse's pieces defy categorization by employing diverse media including photography, video, performance and text to respond to each individual work's specific point of departure. Circularity and self-reflection are recurring strategies in her work that condenses multiple layers of interpretation into visual puns.


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