David Lamelas: Folded Walls, 1994/2018
It is all too easy to call David Lamelas (1946) a conceptual artist. His work, which is flexible and nomadic, eschews any large theatrical display. It is to his credit that he never made a point of his “national” origin, and that as far as he is concerned, the idea of identity has a multi-layered content, something that is increasingly under pressure today.
His artistic production crosses in the coinciding of the vectors of time and space. Consequently, his oeuvre is choreographic; it is not to be caught by fixation – David Lamelas’ works are positioned in the world in a concrete manner, and the inevitable shifts in perception and interpretations of his work are affected by how the world turns.
A wall or a corner are the same today and/or tomorrow – with the exception that the actuality of the time lived becomes the “ephemeral” norm that bestows a meaning upon the abstract that relates and measures itself with the surroundings and the viewer’s eventual commitment with history and the way things are done in the course of art.
David Lamelas’ art catches and stutters its way along and throughout time and becomes time thanks to our capacity to recollect, which is a priori both subjective and selective.
It is remarkable how David Lamelas’ work is “ahead” of time while he simultaneously observes and tricks place – time is activity – as the title of one of his works condenses the thought that time remains the “now” and so can merely manifest itself in recollection and on a specific place, wherever that may be.
Folded Walls nests itself intimately in the regular reflection about art; produced for the first time in 1994, it is at the first sight a very simple work of art that at the same time presents itself (vis-à-vis recent art history) as complex.
In 1994 David Lamelas, who was at the time living and working in New York, was invited to do an exhibition in Buenos Aires, the metropolis in his country of origin. After having requested and received the dimensions of the walls of the exhibition space, he selected one wall of 4,3 x 4,6 meters, and, in his studio, folded a large sheet of white paper with the same dimensions carefully and very meticulously, and put it in a suitcase, so he could either take it as luggage and/or send it to Buenos Aires.
Folded Walls is a work that functions as an auto-instruction; at the same time, it makes the notion “in situ” problematic, as it is conceived from the architectural factualness of the place of exhibiting without being fixed in the space/ against the wall. Folded Walls is contained in a cardboard box, which, once it is placed in a space, such as in Galerie Jan Mot in Brussels, becomes as it were an unfolding of the physical space. The transport box becomes a reduction, a model of the architecture. This tension wall/ folded wall of white paper, and the box on the floor as package/ ‘scaled’ architecture, proposes a discourse about the place of the artist, the place of art and the place of the artist’s studio as an office, not a workshop.
Folded Walls is a nomadic work that can be realized in a different place through a simple curatorial question. It is a minimal work in which the white cube as the perfect neutral white space for showing actual art is unfolded by fragile folded paper, as a critical wink to guide experience, coupled to a minimal knowing, back to the heart of the place of exhibiting through an art that is concrete and without any illusion.
Artistic Director of Museumcultuur Strombeek, Ghent, Flanders, Belgium