Recent texts
 
Yam Lau: A proper tone for the name “Painting?” 2005
Janet Jones: Belief and Other Illusions – 2008
Andy Payne: Seeing is (not) believing – 2009
Ian Carr-Harris: Parentheses  2010
Yvonne Lammerich:
notes on my practice 2011
 a context for my work 2013
 
A context for my work (2013)    Yvonne Lammerich
 
I was born in Germany. We moved to Canada. Subsequently I moved to London, England, moved back to Canada, moved to France, came back to Canada, moved to Montreal and back to Toronto. Everywhere was home but nowhere more than in my studio. It has been in my studio that I have been able to bring all of my lives together, rehearsing the performance of belonging.
 
From my earliest time in Canada I have been intuitively pre-occupied with the idea of identity, language and other questions that accompanied this kind of enquiry. I have had a feeling of freedom, however, not to feel obligated or attached to a status quo. I have always appreciated that space of the outsider more than I have resented it. I have been able to turn conventions on their heads and tried to imagine the impossible, not based on the desire for fiction, but for factual possibilities.
 
After initiating more deliberately intuited questions of identity in the late 70’s, my interest in the relationship of shape and its internal and external parameters concluded with notions of the multiple truth of folding and multivalent spaces. These were not just formal observations but intrinsically existential questions whose demonstrations through the work itself generated some provocative and unexpected principles that resonated with certain of my intuitions and experiences.
 
It was at first very humbling to ask what seemed such simple questions, but I came to discover that such questions gave insight to more profound observations that had all the sensations of epiphanies.
 
An epiphany is a recognition on a cellular level wherein conceptual knowledge or intuition recognizes its biological integrity; where feeling and thought, being and knowing come together. Based on such an experience it is worth advancing without fear, restrictions, conventions or compromise. My experience has been that everything thereafter feeds into and expands the breadth and contextual complexity of such questions.  
 
I began to ask these questions in the late 70’s. Since that time I have made work trying to grasp the biology of illusions, where biology comes up against visual conventions. My observation has been that the body navigates three-dimensional space simultaneously as we project ourselves into spatial representations. In other words, existing in both places at the same time, always. I have questioned the nature of shifting beliefs as they intervene with perceptions before they are converted to conceptions.
 
Most recently, I have been applying these questions to the cultural beliefs of a city like Toronto, where these beliefs exist within the identities of cultural diversity. The city has no cohesive sense of its own identity. This city exists in the minds of those that have left it, or those that are just arriving, as a potential whole. Yet in itself as a scene it refuses to coalesce as a form of resistance. This city refuses to pin itself down, is more comfortable with anonymity than identity, due in part to its long relationship with New York and now with Europe.  
 
The current TMCA project represents for me a forum that locates me at the aperture between the three-dimensional space we occupy and the space into which we project ourselves.  As a model, a virtual forum, the TMCA would seem to occupy the realm of immateriality. Yet it’s command, pinned over the entrance: “You stand in your own light; make it shine” links it to the viewer’s own space, the space of the material world, the space of the room in which the viewer stands to read that command. Today the immaterial can no longer be imagined separate from that materiality. I am at one and the same time both there and here; the space I am in and the space into which I project myself are one and the same. It can no longer be simply an abstract mental conception, but rather a part of the complex cultural materiality informed by the spaces of diversity that construct both my personal space and that of the civic space, the world, in which I live and work. I stand in my own light, and it is I who makes it shine.
 
Yvonne Lammerich February 2013
 
 
 
 
 
Parentheses in the work of Yvonne Lammerich    Ian Carr-Harris 2010
 
I came to art through painting, initially as a formal inquiry into visual language within a bounded picture plane. Increasingly, however, my interest centred on the nature of the viewer’s reception of this inquiry, and my conviction that while the form was visual, the sensory experience was more complex. This led me to understand the plane of the picture as a form of tympanum, a resonating membrane possessing both a projective and a receptive dimension, like a cone capable of both hailing and hearing: not so much a ‘page’ as a doubled projection. This opened up the flatness of the picture, unfolded it as an active rehearsal of the body’s spatial experiences from touch through hearing.
    Yvonne Lammerich, 2005
 
Yvonne Lammerich’s work is a sustained investigation of the trajectory linking the mobile space of the viewer to the suspended space of representation. For Lammerich, it is the act of viewing that precipitates a transmission or projection, an arc, which catches the viewer in an infinite series of collapsing moments that constitute the pleasure of the image.
    Ian Carr-Harris, 2009
 
The pleasure of the parenthesis is its invitation to a digression. Perhaps we can even say that pleasure itself constitutes a digression – that it lies only within, or dependent upon, that obtuse level of self-interrogative meaning that Roland Barthes suggests is the realm of art, but which might also be the evocative realm of plenitude, amplitude, beatitude, solitude, similitude – the ‘tude words (see Google’s list!) for states that suggest something beyond the reach of closure.
At any rate, the parenthesis qualifies, interpolates, intervenes in the structure of linear meaning, it enlarges our relationship to something by interrupting our concentration from within. It destabilizes one truth by the simultaneous delivery of another. It is this simultaneity of the incidental, this interpolation, that operates centrally in Lammerich’s work, and which is specifically located in the title of this exhibition at the Nunnery.
The interpolation that has woven itself most contentiously through our negotiation with the idea of art has been the position of the viewer, in both the sense of proximity and response. In her doctoral dissertation on the nature of belief structures, Lammerich noted that in the long span of Western history there can be seen at once a recognition of location as a space of mobility, and an attempt to find a strategy by which to arrest the gaze. Baudelaire went on record in 1846 that sculpture was boring simply because the viewer’s gaze could find no secured resting point that would determine the precision of its image. Michael Fried lamented in Art and Objecthood that Judd, Morris and others had so privileged the viewer’s sheer presence that the autonomous ‘presentness’ of the work of art was translated into a ‘merely interesting’ object.
 
For Lammerich, these struggles with the image, as Canadian critic Philip Monk has put it, are part of the game. It is a game written into the grammar and syntax of language, in fact into the dialectical relations existing between the mind that reflects and the body that engages. We are, incidentally, neither the one nor the other.
    
Ian Carr-Harris, 2010
 
 
Seeing Is (Not) Believing    Andy Payne 2009
 
Socrates: “And what about the carpenter? Isn’t he the craftsman of a chair?”
Glaucon: “Yes.”
Socrates: “And is the painter [of a chair] also a craftsman and maker of such a thing?”
Glaucon: “Not at all.”
 
Plato, Book 10, The Republic
 
In his magisterial work, The Origin of Perspective, the art historian Hubert Damisch poses a provocative question: what kind of thinking is a painting? Whatever its broader relevance, that question seems especially well-suited to orienting our approach to the works that Yvonne Lammerich has been producing over the past quarter century. This is so not only because these works represent a patient exploration of the affinities linking the task of thinking to the task of making works of art. It is also owing to the fact that, notwithstanding Lammerich’s restless peregrinations through various media and associated techniques, painting, and the questions and dilemmas associated with its history, has been and still remains the essential touchstone for her exploration of these affinities.  But perhaps it would be more precise to say that painting remains the essential aporia to which that exploration obsessively returns, for if painting interests Lammerich, it is just insofar as it names a certain crisis or dilemma in the relationship between thought and art. As she puts it in the first sentence of a talk she delivered in 2005: “If to the question of painting today we naturally wish to bring judgments or evaluations, we quickly find ourselves at an impasse.”
 
Of course, this crisis or impasse has been with us for sometime, as has the strategy of attenuating it by refracting the dilemmas associated with the history of painting through non-painterly media and means. What arguably gives Lammerich’s work its special contemporaneity is its commitment to using painting as a means for opening the optical to other registers of somatic experience, as if the syncopations of light and its absence were insuperably implicated in the rhythms and movements that comprise aural and haptic experience, as if perception were always and immediately at once kinesthetic and proprioceptive. Lammerich herself describes her project as one of working between “the plurality of the body’s sensations and the formality of visual experience” in such a way as to “fold” the totality of embodied sentience into the pictorial image, while at the same time unfolding the image along both spatial and temporal axes.
 
The role of the senses, and most especially the non-visual senses, in the constitution of aesthetic experience has been an object of special attention of late, not only amongst artists, but also amongst philosophers, critics, and historians concerned with thinking through the ontological and epistemological implications of contemporary cultural practice. A key dimension of this interest is a concern to interrogate the theory of the sensus communis that has presided over aesthetic discussion from Aristotle to Husserl, so as to insist on the multivalent materiality of aesthetic experience. What is especially interesting about Lammerich’s approach to this topic is her determination to treat painting, that most traditional and scopophilic of artistic media, as a privileged locus for advancing this inquiry.
 
Sometime around 2000, Lammerich’s interest in integrating painting into the totality of somatic experience led her to produce works in which the pictorial image becomes imbricated with its architectural support, on the one hand, and the paradoxical materiality of textual media, on the other. Moving between two and three dimensions, these works trigger a complex relay between perception and conception, exploring the extent to which our intellectual judgments rest upon a complex of unconscious habits seated in the body’s affective and motile capacities. The work Melancholia: Problems of Knowing 1 (2000) could be seen as seminal in this regard. Her most recent work, Belief (2008), marks a consequential extension of this trajectory. It consists of two flat, vertically oriented surfaces, canvasses of a sort, from which complex figures have been cut and extracted. In the first instance, the extracted elements are reconfigured through a series of folding operations so as to form the three dimensional figure of a chair; in the second instance, they are reconfigured to form a table. The resultant objects are then situated at a distance from the wall just wide enough to allow the viewer to move through it, as if the vector formed by that movement, in which vision is eclipsed, gave figure to the threshold at once linking and dividing the intensities of thought and feeling to and from the extended objects populating our world, as if the work ultimately resided neither in the inscribed surface, nor in the dimensioned object, but in this movement that traverses the distance between them.  
 
Andy Payne 2009
 
 
Yvonne Lammerich: Belief and Other Illusions  Re(a)d 2008
 
Diaz Contemporary, Toronto May 3 – 31 2008, by Janet Jones
 
Yvonne Lammerich titles her spring exhibition at Diaz Contemporary “Belief,” but as the lettering on the invitation indicates—the title is printed right side up and then upside down—belief is changeable, a result of the complex coming-together of social and political factors at any given time. Belief can be stood on its head.
On entering the exhibition we see (Wave) Multiple Time Space Zones—Emotive State, a sprawling wall work composed of graphite lines and populated with numerous triangular segments of polystyrene board covered with a dense impasto of black paint. These have been carefully positioned in the spaces between the graphite lines, which form a complex, grid-like network that recedes into the represented space. To the left is a tall floor piece, Column, made up of similar triangular pieces stacked on a steel pole. This act repositioning creates a dynamic spatial dialogue. Column, whose height matches that of the artist, mirrors the viewer’s body. It is as if Column acts as a stand-in for us, bridging the gap between real and represented space.
If we carry this observation to the six diamond-shaped target paintings that occupy the rest of the room, we can begin to unravel their meaning. One is tempted to view them in relation to Noland’s colour-field paintings, Stella’s shaped canvases and Johns’s encaustic targets but, as we approach, we can see traces of the artist’s hand and wavering gestures that attest to thick paint having been applied in dizzying circular motions. Stepping back, we remain caught in that motion—targeted. The viewer’s body mimics the relationship between the real space of the gallery and the kinetic virtual space of the paintings.
 
Yvonne Lammerich “Belief” 2008 Installation view
In the smaller back room are two large wall/floor works, Belief #1 and #2. Both are made from translucent ribbed plastic sheeting. Cut from this flat material are a table and two chairs, their shapes left as negative outlined spaces on the wall, but then reconstructed as three-dimensional objects on the floor in a typical domestic arrangement. Re(a)d, on the far wall, continues with this idea; a chair emerges in stages, with a wall-drawn representation becoming a functional three-dimensional object. Sitting on the chair, the viewer gazes across the room. High up in the far corner a painted black silhouette gives us a distant view of historic buildings. We are transported out through the window to a world beyond us in space and time.
“Belief,” then, is about space and different conventions of representing it. How we choose to create this illusion, which straddles the real and the virtual, and how we position our own bodies within this negotiated space are telling indications of our understanding of the present.
 
Janet Jones 2008
 
 
 
A proper tone for the name “Painting?”    Yam Lau    2005
 
0.0
This series of general remarks on painting was initiated by Yvonne Lammerich’s invitation and is intended to serve as a companion to Lammerich’s own statement.
 
1.0
Initial questions
How does painting hail us today? How do painters become painters by imagining the tone of this hailing?
It is a certainty that within contemporary practice, few painters concern themselves with ontology. There isn’t a sense of imperative to measure up to the question “what is painting?”. Such an approach is rendered unprofitable by the history of the medium and thus relegated as something of the past. Painting is accepted as a diminished practice; its future can only be constructed as a movement unfolding backwards into its instituted history.
 
1.1
Ontology?
Perhaps a different ontology is called for. It will be one that breaks loose from reductive thinking, and no longer seeks to arrive at essences. An ontology that does not yield to the purely visual, but one that enables the name “painting” to be pronounced differently, with a different tone.
Such an ontology will necessarily be “constructed” with a different vitality.
 
1.12
What if “painting” is uttered in a tone that would hold itself off from resigning into history, from settling into the unequivocal territories of abstraction and figuration, and from being framed by its own material objecthood, by surface as its definitive trait?
 
– The way Giotto, Cezanne, Newman and Ryman uttered “painting”.
 
What if all of these things: surface, gesture, figuration, abstraction, architecture, etc are so many affects or virtualities to be redistributed to produce new sensations? So instead of painting, would it, then, be “painting?” (Still the name “painting” but followed by a question mark and uttered with hesitation).
 
1.13
Can painting still motivate us, even if its name may be audible only as a kind of stutter, readily dispersed into space? It may be, precisely, that it is such a dispersal that facilitates itself as a believable presentation of the world. Our body and cognitive intelligence is thus solicited as perpetual emergencies and negotiations with this presentation, this movement.
 
– Pompeii, Chinese calligraphy.
 
2.1
The question “what is painting?” can be rephrased as “ what is this projective schema that enables us to construct and imagine new spatiality and thus other forms of life?
The sense of this question today requires that it arise outside of the institutional form of painting. Hence it is no longer solely an ontological but also an ethical one.
 
 
Notes on my practice (2011)        Yvonne Lammerich
 
Impulse:  a sensible response to a circumstance.
Visual phenomena are multi-sensorial and constitute a preoccupation, an intuited response to lived experience: the experience of my world is like this, visually transliterated through reiterations and elaborations, matching one’s current beliefs with those of others past or present.
Given two identical situations, how can a response reveal just what is being experienced?
Belief in change as a constant informs the legitimacy of the response as essentially momentary, essentially open-ended.
How does that affect the way we feel in the world? Can lack of closure become a satisfaction, a desired end?
Artworks that open up to mutual engagement between producer and receiver become productive.
A structure that promotes and highlights this engagement as integral to an artwork, make it the subject of the artwork, becomes an artwork.  
With engagement (as the moment of the threshold) the purely visual becomes all the engagements produced by an artwork.  
The working process generates realities – makes something real – and that reality is the necessary condition of the future.
Objects are necessary to develop objects, texts are necessary to develop texts.
The way that I experience the world is a consciousness of my bodily imperative as primary perception that moves to conception; perception qualified by beliefs informs conceptions in a continuous process that further shifts beliefs and consequently conceptions.
If something fails, find a new path. Create impossible combinations to use the impossible as a tool to discover a new possible.
Question Plato – he manipulates Socrates to obtain truth. I look for multiple truths
Since my experience has shown that everything changes, I search for the place within which change is the event. The event is the simultaneous experience of real and projected space.
With the camera as model, the aperture seems like a good place to ask the question, what is the condition of change?  
Change is that point of intensity, the simultaneous oscillation, created by two converging realities, the material and the immaterial. These converging realities set each other into motion. The motion is lived experience.
 
Yvonne Lammerich        2011