French artist Emmanuelle Lainé has a lot on her mind… and her floor, walls, bookshelves, tables and windowsills. Sponges, hessian cord, ipods, laptops, jars of bright yellow pigment, a whisk, holograph posters of big cats, old mobile phones, academic texts on domestic animals, a tower of watering cans, a native American Indian statuette, twigs and what appears to be human hair, are just some of the natural and artificial ephemera that sprawl across the interior of the artist’s current exhibition at c-o-m-p-o-s-i-t-e, Brussels.
The three small rooms of the gallery are filled with remnants of a demented excavation through 60’s kitsch to present day electronics. Half car-boot sale aftermath, half archaeological dig and simultaneously studio/gallery/shop front. But what at first glance appears to be an arbitrary disarray of objects soon reveals signs of direction. The general nonchalance is betrayed by some pleasing compositions and a sense of deliberation in the disorder. Around a pile of rubble, crowned by a golden-legged coffee table, streaks of clay radiate in a circular pattern. The walls are papered with to-scale mirror images of the space itself extending the parameters of the gallery in 2D. The same objects appear though there are discrepancies in the printed reflection, rearrangements have been made and items have travelled from room to room leaving little trails of debris behind them.
One ‘thing’ has been digitally blown up and printed larger than life. It is one of the few indefinable objects in the exhibition, not a ‘found’ object but one made by hand rather than factory or nature. Rusty chains in the ceiling have cinched the fossil-like, seashell-like roughcast plaster form unceremoniously upwards. In its printed manifestation however, it is floating, massive and golden, stretching across each room claiming and flattening the space around it. The ‘thing’ seems celebrated in its photographic reproduction - superimposed and scaled up – a monument to the act of creation, however random and ambiguous, however meaningless or meaningful, however consequential in ‘real-life’.
This literal and metaphorical reflection on the act of sculpture making is accompanied by a pervasive feeling of deja-vu. It’s difficult to avoid playing a dimension hopping game of spot the difference and feeling a curiously satisfying spark of recognition when coming across an object located elsewhere on the wallpaper. The visual quandary opens up a kind of perception without insight, one that is born of an innate desire to catalogue the constantly shifting chaos into a tight frame of reference.
Rather than solidifying and finalising a thought process into a neat conclusion, Lainé’s exhibition plays on processing and exposing the messiness of the mind. An erratic network of connections is made and unmade in an accumulation of references, tangents, deliberations, accidents and sometimes a jawbone, a usb drive or an oversized and dusty stuffed horse.