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13 Mar 2010

Peter Lemmens at Galerie van der Mieden, Antwerp

Desktop landscape - Saturday, 2010
lamdaprint on dibond, 87 x 116 cm, ed 3 + 1AP

Peter Lemmens
Galerie van der Mieden


On view March 11 - April 24 hours: Wed - Sat 2-6 pm

Diederik van der Mieden
+32 3 2317742

Galerie van der Mieden
Pourbusstraat 15
2000 Antwerp

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Inspiration in practice

For the first time, Peter Lemmens (Mechelen 1975) shows his work in Galerie van der Mieden. Earlier, he already exhibited in Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Galerie Micheline Szwajcer in Antwerp, MAC's Museum in Grand Hornu, Verbeke Foundation in Kemzeke, at Liste Basel and Frieze in London. This exhibition shows 3 video installations, photo work and an installation mounted on the wall. However, it's not about multimedia art, photography or video. Peter Lemmens looks at these art forms purely as instruments, as if you would look at a normal hammer. It's a simple, practical and useful object, but you can't 'understand' a hammer. You can only understand what its purpose is, which becomes clear when someone knocks a nail into a wall.

With his work, Peter Lemmens knocks nails into walls. It doesn't matter whether you understand the work itself, because it wants us to have an insight into another matter. Peter Lemmens gives us the opportunity to become active, not just passively look and listen. He wants us to filter the big picture out of the different parts by taking part actively.

Lemmens draws his inspiration from information. With help from the internet and search robots, we have access to virtually everything. But it's not about the computer and its hard disk, neither is it about the film and its music. Lemmens extracts from these films, computer screens and hard disks what is actually in them, even though that may not be their purpose. Due to the multitude of images, carriers, sounds and fragments in his work, you lose knowledge, you don't exactly know what to look at or focus on. Instead of an insight, it offers inspiration and inspiration makes us build up things not merely undergo them. If you get engrossed into his work, you will receive his inspiration, which you will be able to use yourself.

The Trilogy Redux

One of the films shown in the exhibition is the black and white movie 'The Trilogy Redux (R.P. edit)'. It comprises the 3 works from Roman Polanski's apartment trilogy 'Rosemary's Baby', 'Repulsion' and 'The Tenant'..

The computer randomly searches for scenes out of these films and puts them over each other. The storylines run simultaneously and cross each other in such a way that they become one. The images form a new never-ending film. The soundtrack is a continuous loop of the song '3 views of a secret' by Jaco Pastorius.

In this video, Lemmens doesn't look for meaning in the films, he wants to show connections that are already there i.e. the story that unfolds outside of the film in which we take part. It's impossible to see these connections when you look at them separately. Knowing that a film is part of a trilogy makes you look at the other parts differently anyway.

The separate parts come together. But in this particular video work, it's not just the different films that build a whole, all parts, all scenes become one. When you experience that, you experience that unity.

Peter Lemmens: 'If you try to understand something by stubbornly looking at the smaller parts, you'll find yourself stuck with them and as a consequence you'll miss a lot of information. The essence, the aim is to comprehend the bigger picture, to experience it and to be able to use it.'
In order for us to experience it, we have to watch, observe and discover actively. By combining those three films, new stories are being generated permanently. There actually is too much information for us to process and it automatically leads us to a point where we can decide to make up our own story, fully inspired by the film.

Peter Lemmens: 'If you want to take as much out of an art work as possible, you have to make an effort. If you don't, you'll mostly end up wondering 'Is this really art?'. If you're only prepared to passively undergo my work, it won't have much to offer.

You'll probably just see one layer and you'll fail to see the opportunities I offer the audience to go further, to go the proverbial extra mile. Many works of art render loads of information but fail to show its own essence: it's not about the art work itself anymore. I hope that my work is however able to succeed where others fail, that it to show that there is more to it than the internal logic of the work.'

Hard Disk Sculpture (Teo Macero Edit) 2010

Conceptual art mainly concentrates on setting matters straight, it wants to make a point. Peter Lemmens on the other hand wants to take in things just the way everybody else perceives matters. Feelings and practice build his starting point, not fixed ideas.

This work seems to be about shape, if you don't realize that it's about hard disks; a formal work of art made up of empty boxes, but once you understand that it's about hard disks, you realize that something must be on them. The shape enables us to see that because everybody knows that the shape of a hard disk is actual information. You can choose not to use the information and look at it purely from a formal perspective, but if you take a different view you'll discover there's another meaning to it. Because you know that all kinds of things are stored on hard disks, you get the opportunity to make surprising discoveries. Lemmens offers a search: you'll make links, you'll find connections and relationships.

On the Lacie hard disks, the whole archive of Peter Lemmens is stored, just as he filed and used it. Its shape is universal, maybe a bit remote, almost conceptual, but the content is very personal, poetic even. It's his life in figures, sound and images. It represents his personal preferences, his passions and thoughts. They don't have to be discovered, they can remain untouched. Only if we set out to use them and be inspired by all the information they have in store for us, we will be able to discover this work in all its complexity. At any moment this process of discovery can start off, without knowing where it will end.

Although we might call it an endless process, there are practical boundaries of course. Only he who possesses the work can work with it, use its information and inspiration, look at it and see the big picture. It's always a possibility, but never a necessity.

Also, there's a time limit: if we decide not to use the information, it will vanish with as time goes by. The hard disks will return to being empty boxes again.

Peter Lemmens has published a brochure especially for this exhibition in which all items of the archives are listed, structured just like the folders on your computer hard disk: folder untitled, folder screenshot, folder images etc. The archive can be read as a story, like a book, searching your way on the disk. You can see for example that he has taken 10 000 pictures in 2005, accompanied by exact dates indicating which pictures were taken when. There just numbers but nevertheless become meaningful.

'Desktop Landscapes, 2009

These photographic works are prints from screenshots on his (Peter Lemmens) computer desktop. With these prints he literally shows us the platform he works on and gives direct information about the layers of his screen and all the layers of information on display.

Those are static images on a screen in which the chosen image of paradise is gradually being swallowed by the work tools on the computer. This particular image could tell us a lot about the owner of the computer, but it doesn't have to. It might just as well be a picture taken of the internet. The choice of the image however remains a personal one, just like the folders and files. Not everybody owns the content, not in that order and not with the user's manual. They are just plain observations, tucked away in small archives. Even still. The information these folders can reveal, if we would click on them, will eventually be more personal and inspiring than the landscapes shown on the desktop.