Drawing on her extensive archive of photographs, Gaëlle Leenhardt’s exhibition sets out an ongoing history of intensity, from the dawn of the planet to the unfolding of the present and beyond. Leenhardt shifts our attention away from the physical matter of her installations towards their grouped interrelations. She unearths these relationships between the archaic material of geological and geographic forces, and the momentary encounters evoked in her photographs. Here she entwines the long timescales of geological transformation with the presumed instantaneous nature of the photograph; duration within the moment. With this encompassing gesture she is able to explore the features of the world. These features she indexes in her installations through a shifting of perspectives that foregrounds relations rather than trying to pin down the objects in themselves.
Her title refers to the series of transformations of geological rock through intense heat and pressure. These sequences can be made up of rocks that are visually very different that have been metamorphoses under various conditions but originate from the same base rock. Gaëlle Leenhardt reasons these groups of intensive transformation in parallel to her archived photographic traces, suggesting a continuity between the photographs and planetary timescales. She proposes a sort of ancient scene-setting that leads to the various depicted moments; a continuous series of quantum events that pass through the present, where we attempt to draw out their intra-related parts.
Leenhardt’s political tonality is derived from her ability to think through relations without needing to fix the object beforehand. This ‘primacy of the relational’ may seem surprising in face of the very weighted and present matter of her installations, but it is remarkable exactly in her ability to slip us out of the habitual understanding of the objects that appear in her work. Leenhardt’s ontology is constructed from the archi-matter of geology, the momentary outcrops of socio-political events, and the physical diagram she constructs with them. The past is always available in Leenhardt’s work, though buried deep in the passing moment, ready to crystallize and transform her materials into surprising forms and possibilities.
Gaëlle Leenhardt. Born 1987. Lives and works between France and Serbia.