Dominique Lacloche

Dominique Lacloche develops gelatin silver prints on giant Gunnera Manicata leaves. This species of South American plant has been in existence for 150 million-years and is distinctive for its disproportionate leaf size, measuring up to 2 or 3 meters wide. Handling the plant is extremely precarious: the monumental apace with the fragility of living matter.

It is through light that this unique plant and photographic technique converge – the unpredictable nature of organic life and of chemical “life” plays out through both photosynthesis and photographic revelation. The image passes through anarchic, delicate, unpredictable phases, and the artistic gesture yields to the force of external events that impose themselves like “natural” laws.

The disproportionate size of the leaves may prevail over the “image subject” at any given moment and transport you to a world where the monumental dictates its own laws. The spatial arrangement and intelligibility of these giant leaves is thus a test of strength for the artist, an endeavour to strike the right balance.

Lacloche returns to the same landscape time and time again; a clump of trees bordering a lake. Over 20 years, her camera has intuitively edged closer and closer to the surface of the water. The images have slowly mutated from figurative landscape to reflections of branches disturbed by the ripples of the water. The images revealed on the leaves have become compositions of sinusoidal lines and abstract signs, like unknown calligraphy waiting to be deciphered. At our scale, the images are encompassing and poetic, absorbing us in their reflection; yet due to the salience of the work’s spatial disposition and the leaf’s texture on which the images are developed, the leaf becomes a space of invention and aesthetic correspondences that are communicated through its veins and holes, faintly or clearly, as an interweaving of lines, generator of new textures and forms.

The visual operation at work here, which is played out just as much in Lacloche’s technical balancing of elements, as it is in the unpredictable and uncompromising technicity of the work’s organic element, is imbued with something of the unspeakable recommencement of things. Each “image leaf” leads to another, and then another, like the unfolding of multiple ways of showing the world as a creative source. The “here and now” uncoils – renewed, regenerated, or in a state of inexorable destruction – the slow and imposing march of a state of nature and a “state of art”, reconciled.

Sandra Vanbremeersch