Talking contemporary

Artist duo gives background on their theoretical artwork

Lemmens talking about the pair’s artwork, entitled “The Prophets”.
Lemmens talking about the pair’s artwork, entitled “The Prophets”.
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Conceptual artists Marilou Lemmens and Richard Ibghy presented their contemporary theoretical artwork at Modern Fuel Gallery’s new space in the Tett Centre on Wednesday.

The presentation, a part of Modern Fuel’s Purview speaker series, will continue through Thursday with an interactive workshop held by Lemmens and Ibghy.

The workshop will focus on performative uses of the body, including actions, to explore the practice of making.

Wednesday’s talk — which lasted just over an hour — focused on Lemmens and Ibghy’s work, showing samplings of multimedia art they created from 2008-14.

The artists alternated back and forth as they made their way through their portfolio, explaining each work and the intentions and meanings behind it.

Ibghy started the talk, showing an untitled video montage entitled “Credit Crisis” which the pair created in 2008, during the time of the global financial crisis.

The video featured a 10-minute sequence of yellow words on a coloured background. The words, which alternated paces and intonations throughout the duration of the video, were economic terms like “absolute advantage”, “opportunity cost” and “depreciation.” “We really wanted to tell a narrative,” Ibghy said. “By using these words which were commonly heard and representative of the time of the economic crisis and changing the pace and tone we were aiming to put people in that time.” Lemmens then began discussing “The Prophets” — an ongoing exhibition that currently sits in the Norwegian Museum of Contemporary Art.

“The Prophets” consists of over 400 small handmade sculptures laid out beside one another along a table. Lemmens said they still plan to add pieces to the exhibition.

The structures are each based on various models commonly used in political and economic sciences — such as “deadweight loss” or “total welfare loss” — from the 18th century up until 2008.

Each model is based on a theory or data that is recorded graphically.

“We wanted to bring something that was two-dimensional and make it three-dimensional, which introduces a tangible quality to the work,” Lemmens said.

“This way, the viewer can look at them from all angles and examine the textures and shapes of the economic theories instead of just looking at a two dimensional graph.”

Ibghy added that the goal of the work was to “bring the abstract to materiality” by taking ideas and making them into a recognizable visual representation of theoretical numbers and ideas.

Overall, Lemmens and Ibghy provided attendees with insight into their creative processes.

Like most contemporary art, what makes their work unique has more to do with the creative process involved, and the ideas employed, rather than aesthetics.

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