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Art clandestino with Luciana Lamothe
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Art clandestino with Luciana Lamothe

Umělec magazine 2007/4

01.04.2007

Chris Gill | artist | en cs de es

I hated the oppressive obedience of my school days. As a reaction to it the kids I befriended were far more inclined to cause chaos than to learn. Pubic hair in sandwiches, mud in hair, a healthy disdain for the National curriculum; every school had kids like these. I was surprised when I moved into the professional world that this oppression was even more systematically ingrained. So I continued to make friends with the trouble makers in this kind of environment.

I am unashamed that this underdeveloped sense of grasping the subtleties of what is considered reasonable and anti-social behavior is what first impelled me towards the art of Luciana Lamothe.

It is easy to pigeon hole this anarchic Argentinian visual artist who has been causing havoc in Buenos Aires, turning over plant pots in spacious shopping centers, destroying public toilets, and keeping the inhabitants of expensive apartment buildings awake at night, by ringing their doorbells, ten at a time. Such mischievous acts though, as funny as they are, are unrepresentative of her work.

When I asked Luciana Lamothe about the playful vandalism of her art she had a lot to say: “I like to think any art created always possesses a quota of anarchism, mainly from the aesthetic point of view. What I do with my work is to carry out operations pertaining to an artistic conscience, for example to perforate something, to move things, to prevent an access or to cause exhaustion in residents by incessantly touching an electric doorbell, or to generate spectacular pandemonium. My operations are clandestine, without authorization; that is to say being outside the art institutions. This is what turns my work anarchist.”

I first became aware of Lamothe by watching Autor Material (2005). This ten minute video short is both a visual sledgehammer and the delicate apparatus of a surgeon. The opening sequence (possibly the most iconic sequence of the short), in which Lamothe breaks the flush button of a toilet and carefully ties it to the door before throwing it in, is testament to this. “The toilet is in a shopping mall of Buenos Aires. What interested me was to obtain a space situation, sculptured and paradoxical. I unscrew the button of the toilet, I throw it in the toilet and at the same time I tie it to the door. Consequently I am locked in and must leave by above, and later somebody has to break the door to withdraw the button from the bottom of the toilet.” Before her escape, Lamothe cuts the cord and discards the excess, demonstrating a complete control over this space.

complete control over this space. Concepts of space are explored throughout Autor Material. One intense sequence sees Lamothe charcoal etching around the outline of the shadow caused by a radio playing Mozart’s Requiem. Another sequence shows her digging a huge hole behind the wheel of a digger. The parameter of confined spaces is the main theme in a series of photographs Lamothe sent to Umelec. The collection featured images of locked doors with the scars of attempted unlawful entry, the flowing mess of an emptied pot of paint and a barricaded shop front.

As Lamothe is leaving the bathroom in the scene as described above, she takes a brief glance in the mirror and those viewers paying close attention get a glimpse of her artistic tool. Autor Material was filmed using Lamothe’s homemade hairband camera device. This offers the viewer a personal window into Lamothe’s eyes. It frees up her entire body, and means she can capture the viewpoints without help, and maybe more importantly, without witnesses. This methodical introspection is not new, but it is necessary for the visual artist who potentially needs a quick getaway. It is maybe because of her camera that Lamothe can boast of never having had problems with the police.

Materialist CriticLamothe’s interest in spaces and the materials used to construct them, also reveal a concern for materialism. She considers her visual art, and subsequent getaways, to be an attack on the excesses of consumerism and materialism in modern Argentinean

society, “My actions face the materiality of things, to attack the property of these things. I always work in places in which I do not have anything to do with on a personal level. It interests me more than anything to take apart the reality of these materials.”

This preoccupation with space and materials is evident in the title Autor Material, named so because, according to Lamothe, “The intellectual author is the one who plans the crime; the material author is the one who carries it out. They are the assassins to pay. Playing with the words “material” and “author,” directly relates to art. On the other hand, my operations are almost always concerned with causing alterations in the materials.”

Umělec 1 / 2007 / recenze / 9 Lamothe also uses the internet as a medium for her critique of materialism via her weblog Communion. The still felt financial and social implications of Argentina’s devastating economic crash in 2001, which left millions in poverty, is addressed with a series of

photographs highlighting the black market economy. The images capture transit vans so packed with Coca Cola they resemble a shaken up bottle about to explode when the lid is taken off, buses hiding cases of Budweiser under the seats of their regular passengers, and armed customs officials at stop and search road blocks uncovering vans full of cigarette lighters. Yet, she says she is uninterested in politics beyond the aesthetic sense, “contraband interests me no more than any other clandestine situation.”

Lamothe seems more interested in the everyday, the simple, the beautiful aspects of life. One sequence in Autor Material shows her lying in a boat dreaming towards the clear blue sky with a rusty chainsaw between her dirty, fleshy legs. Such serene images and natural noises are juxtaposed in contrast with brief flashes of industrial street washers, heavy construction on building sites and the laser frenzy of a video arcade. This innovative manipulation of sound and picture is a constant theme in Autor Material. From the

subdued heavy breathing within the confides of a toilet cubicle, and the gentle waves and crickets of a leisurely boat ride, to the ear piercing screams of doorbells and “Hola’s” from tired and bewildered Argentineans; Lamothe excels in bringing the noise of the situation to the viewer. “The sounds are super important. I consider them generators of sense. They are a sum of the drama, which intensifies a situation.”




01.04.2007

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