19 February 2010 to 27 March 2010
Foxy Production presents LARS LAUMANN’s inaugural New York solo exhibition. Laumann’s videos and works on paper twist and tease fact and fiction into poetic narratives, ripe with coincidences and odd associations. Using both appropriated and original content, he portrays extraordinary characters as they negotiate the historical and social forces that bear upon them.
In the exhibition, Laumann combines videos and lithographs in a layered and playfully philosophical exploration of authorship and originality. He analyses both the drive to create and the drive to censor. His works use voice and language to wryly probe the possibilities of individual and collective agency.
Author and activist Helen Keller and the plagiarism controversy that followed the publication of her childhood short story The Frost King (1891) are central to Laumann’s video Kari & Knut. Named after a Norwegian children’s game, it tells the story of a rebellious Iranian student who struggles against the authority of her doctrinaire professor. She defends Keller’s work and decries the effects of the plagiarism dispute upon Keller’s creative output. Re-editing a post-Revolutionary Iranian drama based on Sallinger’s Franny and Zooey with documentary footage of the denazification of Germany and sound by Swedish musician Dan-Ola Persson (who also created the music for Laumann’s acclaimed Berlinmuren), Laumann spins a complex web of connections about the transmission and policing of ideas.
In the screen-based video Duett (styrken i vår tro i en sang, i en sang), Laumann grapples with truth, fiction and memory: Donald Rumsfeld discusses “known knowns” and “unknown unknowns” in relation to Afghanistan, while Margaret Thatcher boldly defends the British sinking of the Argentine navy cruiser the General Belgrano. The original footage is reworked with Persson’s music added, and then repeated within a section of a large plasma screen that has been positioned on its side.
Laumann presents two black-and-white lithographs – one a haiku, the other a limerick – that use a self-invented font of hand-drawn fingers. Without spacing, each character runs into the next, making an initial reading more like a decoding. Both works wittily and unnervingly relate recovered memories of alien abduction and physical violation. Laumann’s conflation of letter and image gives his texts a pictorial dimension that intensifies their humorous yet deeply disturbing qualities.
Installation photography by Mark Woods.
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