HI, HOW ARE YOU?
SEPTIEME Gallery, Paris , France
March 7 – April 22, 2020
A worrying strangeness lies in this question, difficult to perceive upon first reading. Laure Mary-Couégnias takes her time in asking this banal question whose substance has lost its flavor, atrophied as it is by its daily repetition, the weight of everyday life. Hi, How Are You? is a universally translatable question to which man never really replies and upon which he never quite lingers long enough to listen to an answer.
On the occasion of this exhibition and behind canvases with a deceptively flat perspective, Laure paints a poetic and futuristic story in the still-smoking theatre of a post-human era. From the banal to the kitsch, Laure attracts consumers of bright colors and standardized images to lure the eyes that settle on her works to scratch behind the varnish on the surface.
Laure wishes to make of the exhibition an inverse archaeology, a potential space where time is suspended following the disappearance of the human species. Sensitive to the crises that our society is undergoing, from climate change, to deforestation, to the disappearance of animal species, Laure examines with a tender gaze our gradually withering and deteriorating models and imagines the possible remains of the beautiful things we will be obliged to leave behind us.
Her works would then seem to be the remnants of our existence, leading us to question what might have happened for there to be no human figures left. Through Laure’s paintings, it is possible to retrace the path of things to understand the disappearance of men and how nature, here green, was able to regain its rights.
For Laure, her paintings may never be a legacy left for future generations as witnesses of their time. Aware that these generations may not exist, she wants to paint the future so that people tremble in the present. Laure paints what we will not be able to see tomorrow: these bodies and interiors that have served us to live and progress, these sets of beautiful things that, in blinding us, have led to this new era.
Apolitical, the exhibition does not position itself as a criticism of man in his environment, but simply as an enchanting and avant-garde ode to what man could have been, to the beauty of his achievements, like the writing of a posthumous message on his passage through time.
Hi, How Are You?, is also the first sentence Laure wrote to the people she met in her creative process through dating apps, in this way diverting the hazardous algorithm of these new technologies created by man. Desiring to talk about the world around her, Laure wanted to go out and meet it. All her dates led to the exchange of life stories, snippets of memories or personal perspectives. Laure then extracted from each story objects and symbols, having them float in her still lifes, symbolizing our decline.
The paintings are compositions conceived as crime scenes containing evidence of the disappearance of our species. The manufactured objects point to the comfort of consumption and the extinguished power of man over nature, while the surrealist landscapes of abundant vegetation, peaceful witnesses of a past nightmare, indicate that nature has once again become master. Time has passed, man is no longer there, and the mountains are green. As for the animals, they present a more disturbing ambivalence. Alienated by the long-lasting presence of man, who transformed their ecosystems, they keep within them indelible traces of this cohabitation. Their attitudes, contaminated by man, lie between the taxidermist’s pose and the selfie ready to be posted on Instagram. They belong only to our fantasies, which in these paintings are somewhat satisfied. This worrying strangeness returns, causing us to question the nature of these animals, real species or cyborgs programmed by man and left to their own devices.
The terracotta sculptures of acorns, placed on the ground, evoke the excavation of an archaeological site. Some of them, untouched by time, are made of enamel and have retained their glittering beauty. Through these sculptures, Laure wishes to echo another current event of our time, imagining a terminal phase of the #metoo movement. Acorns (or rather nuts, to retain the irony of the French gland), a fatty fruit fed to luxury pigs to obtain quality ham, predict the cynical decline of a patriarchy that has fallen to the ground.
Creating her own dreamlike world in comforting poetry, Laure proposes to examine our future and to put aside the vestiges of the past. According to her, man has learned to live, to survive, and must today learn to erase himself while allowing himself to admire his passage on earth. By accepting his own disappearance, Laure wishes for man to perceive the best of his achievements so as to enjoy his last moments.