The Archive of Disappearance
The Archive of Disappearance is a research project on which Lieven De Boeck works continually. It consists of a theoretical research, and the production of a new work adapted to each city where the project is shown. Based on existing information, interpretations of works by other artists and material found by chance, Lieven De Boeck creates an archive room where the concept of disappearance is omnipresence, both in content and form. De Boeck forces us into an unaccustomed movement which goes from the known towards the unknown, i.e. that by drawing on known works (Broodthaers, Magritte, Duchamp), he recreates the unknown. He creates something enigmatic and leaves it open to every kind of interpretation. So on the first floor, the visitor comes upon a neon crow which is a reference to certain works by Broodthaers, as well as the unknown author who signs anonymous letters.
The disappearance or alteration of the identity is something that continually crops up in his work, as we can see in the left-hand room with his Denatured self-portrait and 'xxx'. The former is a transparency projected onto the window representing the photo of a blank transparency. The second is a stamp with the artist's thumbprint seen through a crystal ball. The main piece in this room, entitled Modern Art Museum/Archive of Disappeared Eagles, a tribute to Marcel Broodthaers, is a series on paper of forty emblems (+ one title page) which each show an eagle cut-out with a scalpel.
The artist is fascinated by identity, whether individual or national, and here, he gives a vision which is minus the reason for the pride of cities or nations which have an eagle in their coat of arms (we find here another allusion to national pride with The Belgian White Flag which floats in the wind, on the façade of the gallery). His work is less a matter of documentation than invention. Lieven De Boeck uses filing as a system of presentation, as in The Parrot where a light table which closely resembles a chequer-board makes visible some of the keys to reading his work. He fragments it,
constantly reinventing, and thereby avoids fossilising through the work of his illustrious predecessors.
In the right-hand room, for example we find The Red Story or The Alphabet Drawings which are retranscriptions of existing texts in an alphabet of his own creation. Having become illegible, these texts are incoherent, but retain the dynamism and the rhythm of the initial texts. The Moon Calendar, which reproduces objects belonging to the artist, has an influence our perception of time, like the neon I II III III five which refers to the marks written on walls to count the passing days. The book resting on a stand near the window is entitled In The Beginning I Left Messages In The Street and reproduces using an acetone technique the annotations carved in the streets of New York. De Boeck tells us that what the archive shows is a past reconstituted according to established codes. It holds traces of the past in many techniques (paper, neon, 8 mm film, vinyl, textiles, plastic, etc.) and makes these traces sometimes indecipherable, in a determination to achieve ultimate disappearance.