NEWS FROM NOWHERE / exposition personnelle / galerie Sanatorium, Istanbul / Juin 2016.
It is failure that guides evolution; perfection offers no incentive for improvement.
Colson Whitehead (1999)
Le titre du roman écrit par William Morris News from nowhere (1890) évoque l’idée d’un voyage dans un lieu qui n’existe pas. L’abandon au sommeil et au rêve, permet au narrateur d’inventer sa société utopique, dans la forme d’un socialisme communautaire et créatif. Ce titre est aussi la possibilité d’une autre utopie : celle d’apporter des nouvelles d’un lieu qui n’existe pas, d’un voyage ou d’une expérience sans lieu, et pourtant remplie de mémoires.
Comment faire émerger de la mémoire à partir d’un nulle-part, en affirmant que ce nulle part possède une certaine réalité ? Voilà peut-être le paradoxe apparent qu’explore LB depuis plusieurs années par une pratique assidue du dessin. Si le titre renvoie à la notion d’utopie chez William Morris, il englobe chez LB une utopie mémorielle reliée directement à l’oubli. En effet ce travail posant la mémoire de l’oubli comme dialectique fondamentale de ce processus, forme le moteur d’une recherche graphique particulière. Saint Augustin, dans ses Confessions, fournit un cadre de pensée incontournable pour aborder cette complémentarité entre les deux termes apparemment opposés.
Ainsi, les dessins de Luz Blanco constituent-ils une sorte d’archéologie de l’image et de sa mémoire, traçant - puisque le graphique est ici un relevé de traces linéaires et pointillées - des résidus de formes iconiques aux sources personnelles incertaines. Comme une archéologue, l’artiste fouille les surfaces de l’image par l’analyse de ses trames, pixels, points, de ce qui constitue sa forme et sa surface, pour ne pas dire sa profondeur. De cette archè (origine), une forme de crypto-graphisme - située entre le retour vers le passé et l’imagination d’un futur - nous fait assister à une activité réellement mystérieuse ; l’artiste, substitue sa main à la machine, en simulant un tracé technologique, à la fois électronique et archaïque, qui annonce la finitude de l’ère des révolutions du paradigme numérique dans lequel nous vivons.
Le postdigital en suivant Kim Cassone (The Aesthetics of Failure: "Post-digital" Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music.) est ce mouvement musical, mais plus largement cette pensée esthétique, qui postule que l’erreur, l’échec, le résidu, le bruit constituent les fissures du paradigme numérique. Chez l’artiste nous voyons bien cette esthétique postdigitale mise à l’œuvre. (voir l’exposition Soft error de luz Blanco à Paris). Le tracé, la graphie, sont arpentage archéologique de l’image numérique ; d’une certaine façon le dessin vient tenter de reconstituer le fil perdu de cette ère disparue. Car, ce qui est volontairement oublié ici - ou bien ce qui a déjà disparu - c’est notre lien à la mémoire artificielle, cette autre utopie qui voudrait que la mémoire du monde se résume aux giga-mémoires numériques, aux datas center écrasants. Une fragilité inhérente à la toute puissance de mémoire artificielle semble s’immiscer dans les fêlures ou les absences générés dans ces dessins ; l’artiste intègre des vacuum et des fragmentations dans l’image ; elle disloque son unité par des jeux d’émiettement et de pixellisation ; elle travaille avec les failles et les découpes afin de questionner ses oublis et sa mémoire en retraçant sa trame à la main. De ces failles dirigées vers un futur postdigital, nous pouvons deviner qu’un travail introspectif est en évolution. Luz Blanco explore des images oubliées qui lui révèlent quelque chose de son propre passé par une prospection dirigée vers l’avenir.
Le “nulle part” est donc un lieu de mémoire et d’oubli. Il existe dans ses absences. Il y a un nulle part quelque part, dans et en dehors de l’image. Un lieu de présence et d’absence ; (Heidegger abordait cette notion par la philosophie de l’art dans Chemins qui ne mènent nulle part ). Les images de LB sont hantées par leur disparition, de la même manière qu’une mémoire historique ou personnelle est intrinsèquement fragile... Son but : retracer leurs vestiges pour éviter qu’elles ne s’envolent définitivement, tout en admettant que ce ne sont que des traces.
NEWS FROM NOWHERE / solo exhibition / Sanatorium Gallery, Istanbul / June 2016.
It is failure that guides evolution; perfection offers no incentive for improvement.
Colson Whitehead (1999)
The title of William Morris’ novel News from Nowhere (1890) evokes the idea of wandering in a place that does not exist. By giving way to sleep and dream, the narrator may invent his own utopian society in the form of a communitarian and creative socialism. Morris’ title also opens onto another utopia: that of bringing news from a non-existing place that is nevertheless filled with memories.
How to bring memory to the fore from a “nowhere” by affirming that such a nowhere has some kind of reality? This could be the obvious paradox Luz Blanco has been exploring for many years through a continued practice of drawing. In William Morris’ novel, the title refers to the idea of utopia while for LB it encompasses a memory-related utopia directly linked to oblivion. Her work, which presents the memory of forgetfulness as a fundamental dialectic of the process, is at the core of her singular graphic investigation. In his Confessions Saint-Augustine articulated an essential framework for thoughts as an approach to the complementarity of these two apparently opposite terms.
In the same manner, Luz Blanco’s graphics are composed of drawn dotted or linear traces and are thus a form of archaeology of images and their memory, tracing residues of iconic shapes from uncertain personal origins.
Like an archaeologist, the artist searches the surfaces of images analysing their lines, pixels and dots, analysing what constitutes their shape and surface, not to say their depth. Out of such primeval force, crypto-graphics of some sorts – set in between the return journey towards the past and the imagining of a future – has us witness a truly mysterious endeavour; the artist uses her hand as a substitute for the machine, simulating a technical drawing, at once electronic and archaic, which announces the finiteness of the era brought about by the current digital technology revolutions.
The term “post-digital”, as used by Kim Cassone in The Aesthetics of Failure: "Post-digital" Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music, refers to this movement in music and more widely to the related aesthetic thought that postulates errors, failures, residues and noise as cracks within the digital paradigm. This post-digital aesthetics is clearly visible in Luz Blanco’s work, and one may refer to her Soft Error solo exhibition in Paris in 2015. Her lines, her scripts are the archaeological survey of digital images; in some way the lost thread from that bygone era is rebuilt through her drawings. For what has been voluntarily forgotten here – or what has already disappeared – is our connection to artificial memory; that other utopia which pretends that the world’s memory is summed up in the giga-bytes of computer memory and in overwhelming datacentres. The inherent fragility of the all-powerful artificial memory seems to seep in the cracks and the blanks generated in these drawings; the artist integrates vacuums and fragmentations in the image; she takes apart its unity in a process of crumbling and pixelation; she leverages its faults and shapes to interrogate her oversights and her memory, redrawing by hand its grid of dots. From these faults, directed at a post-digital future, the viewer may perceive an evolving introspective endeavour. Luz Blanco explores forgotten images that reveal something out of her own past in a search directed at the future.
“Nowhere” is thus a place of memory and a place of oblivion. It exists within its own absences. There is a “nowhere” somewhere, in and out the image. A place of presence and absence; (Heidegger in Paths That Lead Nowhere approached this notion through philosophy of art). Luz Blanco’s images are haunted by their disappearance; in the same way that historical or personal memory is inherently fragile… Her goal is to retrace their remnants to avoid them vanishing permanently while admitting that they are mere traces.
SOFT ERROR / exposition personnelle / galerie Plateforme, Paris / Sept 2015.
L’exposition Soft error de Luz Blanco présente des œuvres graphiques réalisées à l’aide de trames et de pixels, comme métaphore d’une mémoire parcellaire. Le dessin est pour l’artiste une activité méditative, mécanique, reconstituant l’image point par point, incluant ses effacements et ses erreurs. La notion de soft error, empruntée à l’électronique et au computing, renvoie ici à un type de perturbation douce qui peut modifier ou endommager l’information.
Pour l’artiste, ses dessins recréés à partir de clichés photographiques tramés, sont comme des sortes de filtres de mémoires. La notion de filtre est ici ambigu : elle est perçue à la fois comme écran dissimulateur et fenêtre révélatrice d’un événement opaque. La pratique du dessin chez Luz Blanco possède l’ambivalence de la transparence et de l’effacement, rendant les images lisibles à une certaine distance, et indéchiffrables de près.
Dans cette exposition, la présence d’un texte de Saint Augustin ( extrait des Confessions ) retravaillé graphiquement et partiellement effacé par l’artiste, donne une certaine lecture de son travail : Dans ce texte le philosophe y définit la mémoire comme « souvenir de l’oubli ». Les dessins de Luz Blanco se situent dans cette zone évanescente de dialogue entre les deux entités opposées. De la même façon, les installations Eden The end et Vanité réunissent des notions antinomiques, de manière dialectique.
INSIDE / duo exhibition with Ludovic Bernhardt/ IIC, New-Delhi / July 2015.
Shrabasti Mallik, New Delhi, July 2015, The pioneer :
Artist Luz Blanco uses dots to give shape to her art works while Ludovic Bernhardt tries to blur the boundaries which divide nation through graphical representations.
From a distance you can easily identify the artwork as the iconic scene from Satyajit Ray’s movie Charulata, where the protagonist looks through her hand-held binoculars. Go closer and you will find a series of dots clustered around lines by French artist Luz Blanco. Similarly, there is a map of India, which can be identified from a distance but blurs when you move closer. It is a digital representation made by another French artist Ludovic Bernhardt. In an exhibition at India International Centre titled Inside, these two artists have attempted to show that technology, too, has a soul.
Two of Blanco’s artworks titled Maiden with Unicorn were very intriguing, owing to the fact that they were dot-painted (one in black ink and the other in red) on a piece of cloth. It was derived from a medieval tale that only a young virgin can touch and catch a unicorn. “The unicorn is a very strong and poetical symbol of sexuality and also a kind of ancestral Eden in which sexuality is represented like a magical act,” she explained.
The dots that she uses to express her art is complicated and requires a considerable amount of concentration. “It is a slow and meditative work,” she said and explained that the art is influenced to a certain extent by the hyper realistic style and art form of the 70s, which questioned the mechanical process of making images. “And my work is also in the mid way of embroidery and computer. When I draw, the image doesn’t appear immediately and reveal itself with time, when the drawing is finished,” she elaborates. That is why everything is readable from a certain distance, and disappears when the picture comes closer. “It is like a memory which seems sometimes clear and sometimes confusing and unclear,” she said.
One of her exhibits titled Fragments of Memory is made of two long rolls of paper with a triangular image. There is a small gap between the two sheets of paper which disrupts the image from the middle. Blanco explained, “For this drawing we understand that it misses some parts of it, the presence of the space talks about oblivion (forgetfulness). This image is not iconic like the others. It’s just a fragment which seems to have difficulties to recover, to find, its context. It is lost in a big paper roll that symbolises the hidden folds of memory.”
For her series of Charulata paintings, she has placed personal photographs in front of stills picked up from the movie and explored feminine ideas. According to her, cinema is a means of production of collective, heteroclite, dazzling and anonymous memories. She said, “I’m very touched by Charulata. What is powerful in this movie is the identity of a woman, who becomes an artist and a writer. Like a revelation to surpass our own barriers, obstacles, and doubts.”
The artist believes that the question of memory or recollection is a paradoxical one. It involves that which we want memory to retain or not to retain. Additionally, memory can be compared to oblivion, sort of a sensitive balance, or rather a pure reconstruction of reality. She tries to create a dialogue between memory and oblivion through her work. “Each image I create has a paradox between clearness and disappearance. The more we are close, the less we are able to read it. When we are far we can read it clearly. Like memory, which contains huge fault of oblivion,” she said.
A chunk of Bernhardt’s work is a representation of maps from all across the world. He begins by picking up the map from the Internet and then disturbs it with a digital process. “After that I copy it on paper by hand. I use a grid to reproduce exactly the digital map on the paper. It is like a copyist exercise from a digital file,” he explained. It is a long process, with one piece sometimes taking about a month to complete.
When we asked him about the origin of the technique, he smiled and said that it is his own creation, “my own approach.” But he also added that he is influenced by Italian artist Boeti.His maps are graphic and drawing where international boundaries do not have the possibility of being read or understood. He wishes to make the boundaries disappear. “I want to blur them, so that all the information, cities, borders, that normally we use for location, disappear,” he said and added that his goal is to unify the nation state differences, and create a utopian land or map without those lines of separation.
One wall of the gallery is dedicated to graphical representations of 24 Indian lakes like Pulicat, Dal, Shukhna, Kankaria and Sursagar lakes. It is a project that Bernhardt made in his computer to give it a very graphic, digital art effect. The interesting part was how the first picture starts with a bright yellow colour and seamlessly changes to orange, coral, red and finally pink. “It’s quite a very simple organisation of colours, like a painter can do with his own palette. It is also like a spectrum color effect, freely applied to the lakes’ shapes,” he said, confessing that he had never been to any of the lakes. He explained, “They are like a fantasy. But their shapes are authentically reproduced from digital maps.”
There are also representations of the north and south Hemispheres but they have been presented differently. “It’s also a digital production design,” he told us. The Hemispheres have been turned into Rorschach psycho test motives. “For me, geography is not an exact science, but an ideological representation of the world. A map is not a reality, it’s a fiction, and often it’s an ideological fiction. It is a representation of the world, not its reality,” he added.
Of maps, boundaries, memories
Shilpa Raina, New Delhi, July 2015, Deccan Herald NS :
How would a country be if all boundaries disappear and one city merges with another, leaving no room for division? By erasing this prominent information, would there be peace and harmony and would everything just become one?
These hypothetical questions can only arise in an artist’s mind who, through his work, wants to send out a strong message.
A message always need not be related to boundaries. How about exploring obscure parts of your memory that fade with time? And what if they need to be recollected to create a piece of art? Would the art be an exact replica or a work crafted from imagination?
Contemporary French artist Ludovic Bernhard and Luz Blanco are exploring these themes by looking at maps and memories through a different prism in an exhibition titled ‘Inside’.
“I am not a cartographer,” clarifies Bernhard at the outset. He has been working on this India-centric exhibition for a year. But the theme of “without boundaries” map has been on his mind as he has previously drawn the map of Angola which has made its way to the gallery. While it is difficult to identify Angola’s map, the Indian map is easy to spot.
It is this map that gives clarity of Bernhard’s idea: by mixing all lines and boundaries, the uniform Indian map presents a picture of unity. The process Bernhard uses is simple: he picks up a map from the Internet, then takes a print out and reproduces them on a canvas in a mechanical way. “It is drawing basically,” he points out.
Blanco too uses the same process for drawing. A keen observer, she likes to flirt with memory and one’s ability to recollect and forget. “It happens with all of us. We don’t remember our dream, and even if we do, we do in bits and pieces,” she tells Metrolife.
“The drawings are made from photography. But they look fragmented just like our memory. Nothing is clear till you see it from a distance,” she says.
Then there are works where she employs the same technique, but delves into the theme of feminism. “The identity of a woman has always found place in all my works,” she points out.
And then there are images from popular movies. But she has created a new narrative by stringing pictures from different films together. All the works remain open for interpretation.
“They also question your memory. As these images are not aligned, so identifying from which movie they are and what story they are narrating, is challenging,” she says.
EDEN - THE END / solo exhibition / Sanatorium Gallery, Istanbul / May 2014
For her second exhibition in Sanatorium, Luz Blanco proposes a series of artworks which appear like a random circulation through fragmented images: Recovered and separated images from their origin, movie and documentary images, scattered and gathered images that direct themselves as a time of graphic recreation.
Luz Blanco shows us an often dialectical combine process: The fragmentation of the visual tales as well as the iconic material creates ruptures, scattering, tensions and mysterious crumbling narratives. If there is narration, it doesn't impose its own codes and fails to conclude its tales, preferring to capture the instant of the emerging image.
For the artist, drawings recreated from photographs are some kinds of memory filter. The notion of filter is ambiguous, both dissimulating screen and revealing window of an opaque event. Her drawing practice has the ambivalence of transparency and erasure, as well as of fictional or real memory. Images constitute some memorial emergences with their blanks and their captivating reality.
This exhibition aims to show drawings as a work in progress on several fronts, with fragmented and reconstructed images, like a combinatorial process. It focuses on fragments of memories, exhibited in order to let the visitors reconstruct them through their own vision and language. Between “Eden” and “The end”, the language rebuilds and deconstructs itself.
"I DON'T REMEMBER" / solo exhibition / Sanatorium Gallery, Istanbul / March 2012.
For her exhibition at Sanatorium, Luz Blanco suggests a series of works of art that are orchestrated around the following sentence:
« I remember, I don’t remember, I think I remember, I don’t want to remember ».
The question of memory or recollection is a paradoxical one which involves that which we want memory to retain or not to retain, but which persists despite us. Additionally, memory can be compared to oblivion, sort of a sensitive balance, or rather a pure reconstruction of reality.
In this exhibition, memory expresses itself as an iconic work. With the help of these paradoxes Luz Blanco produces images as if they could capture fugitive memories. The drawings displayed are organized according to research carried out in history of cinema, a name and dateless history which is simply made up of some redesigned frames.
For Luz Blanco, cinema is a means of production of collective, heteroclite, dazzling and anonymous memories. It can be compared to the literary technique of cut-up, an experimentation which founds itself on fragmentation and the collage of texts, and is basically about dialectic montage.
These iconic fragments are formed through the association of sketches of narration which is the reason memory, as a reconstruction of reality, can happen.
Luz Blanco attempts to take us right into this very slit between memory and oblivion.