Guy Laramee : The Cave

7 - 27 September 2012

The erosion of cultures – and of “culture” as a whole - is the theme that runs through the last 25 years of Guy Laramee’s artistic practice. Cultures emerge, become obsolete, and are replaced by new ones. With the vanishing of cultures, some people are displaced and destroyed. We are currently told that the paper book is bound to die. The library, as a place, is finished. One might ask, so what? Do we really believe that “new technologies” will change anything concerning our existential dilemma, our human condition? And even if we could change the content of all the books on earth, would this change anything in relation to the domination of analytical knowledge over intuitive knowledge? What is it in ourselves that insists on grabbing, on casting the flow of experience into concepts?

When he was younger, Laramee was very upset with the ideologies of progress. He wanted to destroy them by showing that we are still primitives. Laramee had the profound intuition that as a species, we had not evolved that much. Now he sees that our belief in progress stems from our fascination with the content of consciousness. Despite appearances, our current obsession for changing the forms in which we access culture is but a manifestation of this fascination.

Guy Laramee’s work, in 3D as well as in painting, originates from the very idea that ultimate knowledge could very well be an erosion instead of an accumulation. The title of one of his pieces is “All Ideas Look Alike”. Contemporary art seems to have forgotten that there is an exterior to the intellect. Laramee wants to examine thinking, not only “what” we think, but “that” we think.

So, he carves landscapes out of books and paints romantic landscapes. Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains. They erode a bit more and they become hills. Then they flatten and become fields where apparently nothing is happening. Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply is. Fogs and clouds erase everything we know, everything we think we are. After 30 years of practice, the only thing Guy Laramee still wishes is that his art projects us into this thick “cloud of unknowing.”