Luis Jacob's Albums and the Subjectivity of Aesthetic Experience
Covered in strongly connotated images such as a picture of Yves Klein’s Monotone Symphony, a famous performance that took place in 1960, and one of the touching photographs of Lutz and Alex that Wolfgang Tilmans took in the 90s; the gallery walls of the Montreal based University, UQAM, were transformed by a line of visual references recalling what could have been an infinite and rhythmic moodboard for an art direction project. Album XII, an exhibition that took place between October 21st and December 10th as part of the Montreal Biennial, was the most recent demonstration of the Peruvian artist Luis Jacob, who is now living in Toronto.
The first Album was presented about fifteen years ago, but since then, Jacob has taken his idea further. His work has now been showcased in notorious art manifestation such as the 2007 Documenta in Kassel and a part of his series is now owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Jacob takes images that were published in different contexts in the past such as pop culture, art history and news, and then gives these images new meanings by using them into what the artist calls a linguistic construction. Most of the images are linked by formal similarities that allows us to navigate between architecture images to nude photographs.
The interesting idea explored by Jacob in the Albums is the fact that the pictures were not showcased in their usual context, nor were they credited; they were in fact assembled in a way to provide space to an infinity of narratives. What I personally found visually and conceptually attractive as I visited the exhibition probably fell into nothingness when I left the gallery, and someone with another background entered and gazed at other images.
In this piece, the artistic approach is close to the work of a curator; putting objects together to let the sense emerge by itself. The difference in Jacob’s work resides in the absence of a suggested meaning. There’s no implicit statement, as in the usual curatorial practice, directing the viewer to a planned emerging sense. Jacob’s Albums create a space where the spectator can project his own interiority through his comprehension of the images, from the links he creates between them. We see the image through an individual understanding, thus highlighting our identity and, in a sense, our own memory.
Through this artwork, Jacob gives space to the subjectivity of aesthetic experience, which was, and still is, the source of many debates in the art field. We are included in the piece’s artistic rhetoric by letting our consciousness reflect and shape the way we look at the images.
Photography Eve Laliberté