Verisimilitude


In the new series Verisimilitude, Liane Lang plays on the natural human instinct to read
qualities such as intelligence or emotion in objects and images. Her series takes us into a
fictitious sculptor's studio: a windowless room subjected to a tasteless and disingenuous
interior design scheme, with walls clad in a plastic laminate printed with a faux-wood
pattern, replete with knots and grain, and a floor covered in linoleum masquerading as
ceramic tiles. In this space, only partially and dimly lit in Lang’s images, a sculptor has been
at work. Sections of plaster moulds lie about, sometimes haphazardly scattered,
sometimes deliberately ordered, presumably by the figures that inhabit the pictures. Of
mysterious origin and nature, these figures appear in a variety of poses, evocative but
uncertain. In Pose and Position, a figure kneels in the foreground of the shot, possibly in
supplication, her head and torso covered by plaster, as if enslaved. Behind her to her right,
another woman sits casually, drawing or writing, playing, perhaps, the part of a callous
artist, observing discomfort dispassionately. In The Sculptors Habit the naked form of a
woman teases the viewer from behind a plaster mould, only her legs and hands in view.
The presence of a pair of nail scissors in the figure’s right hand seems, in this incongruous
set-up, to imbue her with a sadistic air.

Employing the staging conventions of Modernist theatre, with its preference for simple
spaces in which to dramatise existential human crises, and a variety of visual clichés
associated with popular depictions of artists and sculptors, such as the cast, the model
and the dummy, Lang’s images take on multiple layers of meaning that resonate with each
other, amplifying their depth and potential whilst never surrendering a clear narrative to the
viewer. Where artifice stops and truth starts is never clear and neither who is the maker,
nor who is the made.

Nick Hackworth, 2006

 

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