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Grey Gardens
Lucas Bourgine

May 17 - 28, 2023

New York

“Mother and Daughter Ordered to Clean House or Get Out”.–So begins the story of the genre-bending documentary Grey Gardens (1975)–of the East Hamptons mansion after the ordered inspection in its open decay, into the decrepit lives under its roof, doddering in a ceaseless past. Yet still in retreat.


 “It is oozing with romance, ghosts and other things.” Lamenting the intrusion, Edith Bouvier Beale stands in defense of the irretrievable past and unliveable present which she shared with her mother.


In a similar way does Lucas Bourgine attend to the other things in a house that he stayed in during the pandemic, coincidently not too far from the Grey Gardens geographically. The pandemic brought life back to this house, yet signs of the opposite were creeping in decrepit corners, hiding in plain sight. The uninhabited house had seen its unsurprising intruders allured by unexpected residues, inducing unexplained massacres greeting its intended visitors months later.


Bourgine gets close to the glasses to a point of intrusion. Captured in petrification–so close, you might want to hold your breath. The harsh exposure casts a forensic glow which renders the transparency of the glasses suspicious–evidence of deposition. The conspicuous dispositions openly mask the bodies of unknown death left forgotten in the flutes. The curves of the gold veneer embrace and evaporate, creating their own assembly and formation, in closed eyelids and open stares–staging neglect and witness.


The enigmatic coherence here finds its genealogy in the stereoscopic image. Perceptive disorientation is navigated with temporal manipulation. Bourgine subverts the collapse of two moments by preemptively congealing the doubled simultaneity into one—bringing to light multiples which reflexively question the nature of perception and fabrication. Through combination and reduction, Bourgine crafts a meticulous seriality in the set of three photographs, reenacting the course of events in their intervals of slow accumulation and soft demise.


Meanwhile, this collapse of two moments, so to speak, also puts forth the mystery of each “moment”. Glasses become the metonym of photographs, as the vessel which mediates anteriority and posteriority–at times full, at times empty. Unsettled time. Unsettling times.


-Hindley Wang

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