With Epidermis II, artist Charlotte Lybeer (b. 1981) presents a new series of photographic works that serves as the capstone of her doctoral research project Lifestyle Supermarket (2012-2015, KASK Antwerp). This work again focuses sharply on contemporary man’s escapist ability to break away from his trivial existence in the day-to-day. What strikes one immediately upon viewing the new works, by comparison with former chapters of her artistic research, is the more purely distilled form of the portraits. The emphasis is no longer on a documentary-photographic approach, as was the case in her series on the architectural aspects of gated communities. Also left behind is the sense of entertainment and spectacle present in the series of portraits Larp, taking a holiday from everydayness and The Furtastic Adventures of the Cabbit and the Folf. The image maker’s fondness for the ‘cute factor’ has cooled off. Lybeer’s new work brings the portraiture of a societal subculture defined by anonymity to a new sculptural level. Like blank sheets, indefinable characters in skin-toned, second-skin suits line the walls of the otherwise nondescript exhibition spaces in military rhythm. It is an uncomfortable display of the noiseless world of role painting.
The exhibition emanates an intriguing and uncanny atmosphere that pushes against the walls of the entire second floor of the Pakhuis building. The use of the spaces is anything but uniform despite its intense sobriety. The arrangement of each of the two exhibition spaces is subtly orchestrated according to its own time signature. In the elongated space, one cannot deny the sense of the artist’s registration. The adjoining space permits greater spatial movement and seems to play more on the central focus of the artist, which lies at the heart of the entire series: the capturing of man’s mobility between two worlds: his ‘real’, ever more artificial, daily life, and the imagined form of reality in a self-created parallel world. One feels that the artist has the ability to distil paradoxical portraits from this unique, intermediary social space. This feeling is heightened by the almost palpable fade out of the monotone characters who flatten and melt irretrievably into generic-looking décors. The spiritual fathers of the main characters have already erased themselves while the new identities are still in the spring of their emergence. It almost seems as if a performance has just taken place in the exhibition spaces that has been frozen in time by the artist. As if, at any moment, the characters might be set free – not only from the reality they seek to escape, but also from the artistic context in which they were prematurely bound – in order to embark on the performance of their lives.
The exhibition is accompanied by the artist’s book Epidermis II, published by APE Ghent. The book presentation will take place during the opening event and will be introduced by Johan Pas.
New work of the artist is also on view in the project space of Lief Hertje + de Grote Witte Reus, The Hague, following a search through the collection of the National Archives Spaarnestad:
Incomplete from A to Z. 15:01> 02.27.2016 in LhGWR, The Hague.