Lieven Lefere SimularitiesSeptember 6th to October 26th 2013

There is an eerie and alienating atmosphere about Lieven Leferes´ photographs. While on the one hand you have the dark, diffusely lit series of a seemingly abandoned house that evokes references to documentary photography from warzones or movies such as “The Road”, a story set in a postapocalyptic society that is for unknown reasons delved into a perpetual twilight, you have on the other hand the contrasting series of an almost sterile environment, set with an apparatus that keeps us guessing what they might be for and hit with an über-bright light that only emphasizes the abstractness of the situation. But while they have this uncomfortable aura around them, the places in Leferes´ works are actually meant to make this world a better, or at least a safer place. They show simulation sites and laboratories where worst case scenarios are exercised by fire fighters and technology is developed to make our life more liveable. But since there is no narrative element and there are no hints in these pictures towards what they depict, we are deceived into believing what our mind offers us as possible explanation. And that actually is what is at the heart of these series. The spaces are what Baudrillard describes as Simulacrum- they are simulated space, representations of real spaces, or a simulation of the representation of a possible reality. Leferes´ works aim to unravel the different layers of realities and meanwhile exposing the medium of photography for what it is: a document of a certain angle on reality that is often misunderstood as being reality itself and therefore a deception of our mind. The same strategy can be seen in an earlier work, titled General Assembly, which Lieven Lefere realized together with Charles Verraest. Through a 1/1 reconstruction the artists have created an image that represents the – in their eyes – failure of the UN as a forum for a global cooperation in the field of economy, law and security. The method of abstractly rebuilding an existing place and subsequently photographing it, involuntarily reminds us of the work of the German photographer Thomas Demand. A remarkable difference is however that Demand usually starts from pictures that have appeared in the media for constructing his model, while the UN on the other hand is a place that cannot be photographed freely. Each photo of these building that is sent into the world is submitted to a rigorous control. General Assembly is not a documentary photo, but a photographic ‘referral image’ that might even transcend the expressiveness of the photo as a document. It refers to known images, but especially to images that cannot be constructed.

Liesbeth Decan and Olaf Pradhan