Violent Void: Laura Lamiel 

The image shows the arrangement of various small objects, among them cartridges, pens, scissors, and a metal bowl. In the upper part of the image, pieces of broken glass seem to lie on a mirror plate. It is a detail from an art work by Laura Lamiel.
Laura Lamiel, Du miel sur un couteau, 2021, detail. Courtesy of the artist and Marcelle Alix, Paris.
Photo: Serge Hasenboehler.

Laura Labile: Vous les Entendez?
June 16 – September 10, 2023
Palais de Tokyo

This is amazing. 
Upon entering the exhibition, a hallucinatory sensation. Yes, the floor is sloping.Lights and glass objects and painting. A first-glance labyrinth. 

Vous les entendez? [Can you hear them?] by Laura Lamiel proposes a parcours through different media, colours, and experiences. Du miel sur un coureau (2021) is the installation of a squared board lying on the floor covered with broken glass and numerous metal objects. A stool, neon lights, and a plate of various tools are place on the board: cartriges, pens, pocket knives, the tops of spoons, a pair of glasses. The installation is placed in front of a mirror wall. A scene between a sinking ship, a mirror cabinet, and a horror movie, with references to Andy Warhol’s Electric Chair. There is nothing comforting here. [Where’s the honey?] 

La Mue and La Mue II () take up the Andy Warhol vibes: the atmosphere of the two works is reminiscent of a prison, and something being electrified. Both works consist of two metallic frames with various clothing tops hanging down. White cotton coats, enlightened from within; and gray shirts, with their arms bound together resembling chain mail. Two screen prints on mirrors recall Andy Warhol’s metallic paint. A ghost town, or a scene from a concentration camp, between documentary photography and Conceptual form. 

Except for Multitude (2007), all works are recently made, dating from 2019 – 2023. The video installation Multitude shows a desert landscape with a multitude of persons crossing. Despite the vastness of the scenery, there is a sense of order and purpose, resembling an anthill. The scene seems never-ending, but it doesn’t matter. The directions change from left to right, from right to left, the image is made up of different layers, fore-, middle- and background. The continuous sound- and image-track accompany the overall exhibition. 

In the center of the exhibition lies a carpet of piles of red books on a mirror plate, circa five per five meter in size. The work references an Asian monastery, monkish calligraphy and again, emanates a sense of order. The mirror creates a shadow play on the ceiling complementing the image from the ground. Concentration, discipline, rigour, and control. However, here these virtues come friendlier than in La Mue and La Mue II

The image shows a glass box standing in a white room. Inside the box are a white box and chair, on the left side outside of the box another table is placed. It is an installation by Laura Lamiel.
Laura Lamiel, Un chant d’amour, 2019 – 2022, installation view at Coimbra Biennial of Contemporary Art, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Marcelle Alix, Paris. Photo : Jorge das Neves.

The works presented align perfectly with the exhibition space, or: this show is superbly curated. Starting with the altered entrance through a back door on the basement level of the Palais de Tokyo, the show provides a completely changed museum experience which is much appreciated. 

Various paintings on glass accompany the exhibition parcours. The works are materially interesting, their red colouring functions like a guiding, a red line. Mark Rothko, Clifford Styll, or murals on ruins. The paintings appeal through their shimmering surface, yet as the exhibition text points out their material highlights an element of distance. This sense of sterility is running through the whole exhibition. 

Housing and household object, tables, chairs, books, lamps. Combined with stark neon lights. It’s a push and pull, yet apart from the faint familiarity of the objects, there is nothing pulling really. The overall atmosphere is eerie, hostile and remote. 

The last room is dedicated to Laura Lamiel’s drawings and an installation of a table with numerous red glass containers on top. Their colour recalls blood, mirrored in the drawings of limbs and organs around. Here, the pain becomes more present and immediate. The title, Territoires Intimes (2020-2022) names what is absent in the other works: a sense of intimacy. 

There is nothing beautiful about this exhibition. It is aesthetic, but not comforting. Compared to the work of Mona Hatoum, who shares similar materials, the violence is more direct and open, modern instead of romantic poetry. Laura Lamiel presents the ugly, eerie and strange, fostering strange and novel experiences. 
The sense of remoteness in the exhibition relates to a sense of numbness given ubiquitous images of horror through the media. This quietly and plainly shocking presentation might be a means to wake up. 

The image shows a red structure on white ground, resembling arteries or the veins of a leaf. It is a drawing by Laura Lamiel.
Laura Lamiel, Territoires intimes, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Macelle Alix, Paris. Photo: Aurélien Mole.