Three Years Later He Was Still Dancing

Nassim L'Ghoul

Nassim L'Ghoul's solo-exhibition Three Years Later He Was Still Dancing is on view at EIGEN+ART Lab until August 19, 2023:

Under a night-black sky, glistening streets - a chessboard illuminated by floodlights - flea market stalls in pale reflection of an invisible light source: Nassim L'Ghoul's works envelop us in the gentle, chilling undulations of a 3D-modeled environment charged by personal memories, yet completely stripped of its concrete colors and textures. We are theatrically directed through sections of surreal landscapes as if by a relentless spotlight. The bare surfaces graze us. Their lack of haptics shapes the atmosphere of a transitional zone of intersubjectively communicable yet elusive experiences. The abstracted spaces open and close, becoming counterparts themselves.

Nassim L'Ghoul combines 3D-modeled elements and elements found in databases to "re-create" dreamed or remembered moments in the digital - giving them a new, ambiguous dynamic. The most recent work Teapots Waltz (2023) presents a dim flea market setting. Our gaze jumps between white sheets, undefined decorative objects, and stacks of cutlery vying for our attention in the display. They look like leftover stock, the big rush already seems to be over. Already for Surrealist artists at the beginning of the 20th century, flea markets were a popular place to get hold of found objects - objets trouvés, charged with the lives, the touches of others, which could also, in part, have been and become one's own touches, memories, dreams.

We first fix on a teapot that leisurely swings its left and right leg up in alternation - and yet in the zoom we are inexorably diverted away and away from it, to a photo album whose cover is adorned with the image of an infant. The lifeless, eerily moving object of utility is juxtaposed with the still image and epitome of a life in the making for the future. The compilation exudes quiet melancholy in its entanglement of seriousness and wit. Above all, L'Ghoul's mode of representation tells us nothing about the age, the weariness, the traces of former owners of the tableware and also of the photo collection. Both are as discarded as they are seemingly untouched, pointing ahead to something we might plunge into via them as media, as mediators between past, present, and future.

All sequences revolve around encounters and confrontations - or even more: around transitions between the two, between states of opening and demarcation: between objects, body parts, proxies of persons.
Pig From Head To Toe (2022) makes us witness the chess game between a cut foot and a pig. The toes drum impatiently on the floor, finally rising in a slapping manner to checkmate. The piglet bursts into tears rolling out like worms. But instead of looking at the situation up close, the camera suddenly pans to the knight on the board. The knight has just fallen out of his role as the object being played; he switches to the observer position, observes the scene from a distance, before diving into the foam of the programmed environment - which at this point becomes a bathtub.

Much like Teapots Waltz performs a veritable diversionary maneuver by first directing us to the dancing teapot but then making us stop on the book, Pig From Head To Toe also forces us to change our field of vision. The extreme brightness seems as if something should be particularly well illuminated to enable us to analyze it closely. In our privileged, yet fixed, viewer position, which we cannot influence ourselves, we are, however, rather dazzled than illuminated by the light - similar to how the sense of sight does not always and not only provide us with an overview and selectivity in complex situations, but above all our inner and outer movement causes and enables a positioning in the first place.

In this respect, Nassim L'Ghoul's works are also pleas to visualize past or imagined situations in different ways, to move through them by means of different senses in order to replace supposed clear-sightedness with a shift of perspectives. The aim is not to penetrate to a "core", but rather to re-perspectivize an experience from a fantastic point of view. Meticulous, forensic, yet open to versions of events that could have been or read differently.

The view gained in this way gains its reality content precisely by becoming divisible - divisible into many individual moments that do not produce a coherent story but an atmospheric network; communicable in the form of the superficial "neutralization" that offers an increased connectivity not for the same but for comparable experiences and sensations. The many possible meanings of a scene come to the fore. What recedes are perhaps the valuations, weightings, that we ascribe to the components of a story we have experienced or comprehended ourselves.

Three Years Later He Was Still Dancing is an exhibition of experimental arrangements: Among other things, we associate the color white with the atmosphere of clinically sterile rooms that are never as neutral and isolated as they appear at first glance. The "laboratory-like" situations into which L'Ghoul's video works throw us are also constructed down to the last detail; our gaze within them is predetermined and directed. The work softlinks, for example, was created on the basis of a ride simulator of the Frankfurt subway. The scene sucks us in, but then leaves us standing in the mere excerpt of a possible narrative. In all the works shown, we encounter means of transportation: a raft drifts by, a canoe, a bathtub that fulfills a similar function of transporting bodies and thoughts-but they remain strangely separate from us, moving alongside us while we ourselves are moved by the encircling zoom of the camera.

L'Ghoul's videos do not offer a ride through immersively experienced stories. They thrust us into a space where animate and inanimate actors alike relate their movements to our passive being moved by the perspective provided by the artist and the technology. While our gaze is directed towards a very specific goal, the meaning of which (still) eludes us, we observe the figures in rather undirected, repetitive movements leading into or "to nothing". The ostensibly goal-directed and the apparently disoriented blur into a gray zone in which we move daily and in which possible paths open up for us only in the constant crossing of the border between the two.

Text by Ellen Wagner | Exhibition views by Johannes Kremer

Artwork: © Nassim L'Ghoul, 2023

EIGEN + ART Lab, the project space of Galerie EIGEN + ART, is an innovative field for experimentation of contemporary artistic positions. The exhibitions, interactions and the concept of the Lab reflect dynamic contexts in various sections of art and society.
EIGEN + ART Lab is founded 2012 and since January 2015 located at Torstraße 220.