The end is where Laetitia Hussain starts from. She first encounters the objects used in her work at the end of their lives. They are cast-offs: obsolete, finished discarded, and forgotten.
Rather than completely reassigning their purpose, transforming things entirely in the artistic process, Hussain underscores the sorry fate of her found objects. A lifeless trunk uses manual tools as prosthetic roots, reaching into an imaginary terra firma. Its canopy of leaves is just a memory; it attempts to harvest sunlight and air with scythes.
The theme of amputation plays largely in her work, stressing the notion of natural loss extending well beyond the merely environmental. Clearcut forests connect the destruction of nature and the corporeal. Gilding by was you inferior process unifies the installation, communicating at once a sincere and self-reproachful attempt to preserve a moment for ever. Hussain questions how we assign value to others, our environment and experience. —Patrick Terenchin
Installation, Terenchin Gallery Catskill NY(\(\(2009)
Installation, John Davis Gallery, Hudson NY (2012)
Sycamore is an illustration of genetic modification gone wrong, and its potential effect on our natural environment.
Fallen limbs were gathered in Columbia and Dutchess counties of New York’s Hudson Valley. Hung from pulleys, the mitered and reconstructed limbs create an exaggerated mangled form contrary to the natural growth of the sycamore. The result is a bastardized version of Nature, akin to a genetically modified insect upsetting the balance of regional ecosystems.
Basilica Installation, Hudson NY (2011)
Laetitia Hussain’s white geometric form is impenetrable. It could be mistaken for an artifact from a culture long gone or from one yet to evolve. It refuses to refer to a specific historical period. In an act of further evasion, it suggests forms beyond itself: dice, gemstones, floating icebergs. But the cool minimalism and pure math of the thing seem to discourage metaphor and interpretation. Ultimately, the form requires us to accept it for what it is: a deliberately crafted, highly idiosyncratic shape that makes no apologies for its irregularity, mystery and subsequent charm. At the heart of Hussain’s installation is an object that wants it both ways: love me because I am unique; love me because I am formulaic. Such is the unresolved conflict within us all, a duality which can also be expressed as the individualist vs. the social creature. The four components of the artist’s Basilica Hudson installation represent an investigation into the perils of our quest to successfully inhabit both a physical and social space in the 21st century. —Patrick Terenchin (Read the full essay online at )
The Shallow Waters of Deep Hollow, CR10 Linthgo NY (2013)
This site-specific installation is an abstraction of a natural site known to the artist, where a stream runs between steep rocks. The site conveys both security and anonymity.
In the abstracted installation, a pool obstructs the viewer. Found at the natural site, the stone within the pool represents unattainability. The reflective quality of the installation refers to the process of looking for answers within oneself.
The corner of the room becomes a void where all is echoed, and given back.
Intention, Sculpture Space Residency, Utica NY (2017)
The project began with a drawing in the sand a friend drew. It consisted of two parallel lines and two circles on the outside that signified the path and two circles taking a leap outside off the path. I paid little attention to it but he insisted I look at it. Later, he suggested I elaborate on the idea and make something of it.
He later sent me a small drawing of it I had requested. My version was a series of parallel lines that intersected with one another in the shape of a circle with an empty circle in the middle. I created a ten or so drawings that I ended up ripping up and discarding to my dismay.
In May I was thinking of the sculpture I would build during a two month residency in Utica NY at Sculpture Space. Before going up there I was reading from different materials to build and reinforce my ideas about the work I would create. From Buckminster Fuller to Jorge Luis Borges to Wilfred Bion a psychotherapist, for inspiration and ideas. Borges was very influential. Out of his book Labyrinths, I chose the story The Library of Babel. A library of the universe in which the rooms were hexagons. The library was a complete collection of writings about the universe and all it entailed. The librarians who were all men, would tirelessly review the books in this library and would slowly go mad and depressed trying to make sense of it all. It was only when they got back to the beginning that they would get back to the beginning that they would feel a great sense of relief. Because within the chaos there was an order and a pattern to follow from the beginning to end. At the end Borges writes a footnote. That the entire library could have been reduced down to a few volumes it was a statement made by a fellow writer of Borges name Letizia de something rather. I thought to myself how funny. I suppose it was the right story to choose among the many short stories. It was the first that I read. Delving deeper into the story I came across an essay by W.V.O. Quine. Which stated that the entire library could have been reduced to the point and line used in morse code. On two pieces of paper the entire library could be summed up by arranging 2 pieces of paper that could spell “everything worth saying and everything else as well, can be said with two characters.
A few days later, I was in Albany NY in a metal manufacturer called Albany Steel. They have what are called drops. Remnants from various jobs that are sold by weight. To my delight, I found 4 five foot trapezoids. Costing $280, they also fit perfectly in my car. I remembered the hexagonal rooms in Borges story. Of course 2 trapezoids together form a hexagon.
The interesting thing about making art or working on a specific project is the work begins to make itself. Your senses lead you to the objects forms and ideas that feed the idea. What is left for you to do is pay attention.
I was ready to start my residency. The trapezoids would be put on small dollies to effortlessly roll the shapes around as a modular, ready made or found, minimalist sculpture. The spectators would partake in an interactive piece and move the pieces around and arrange them to their liking. With a camera, the motion would be recorded and played in fast forward.
In the beginning my main topic dealt with life, death, chance encounters and communication. I became curious about the point and the line which another friend pointed out how a rod could be thought of as the dot as birth, the length as life and the opposite dot as death. As far as communication the point and the line of morse code was evident. I would use steel rods to build my piece.
The trapezoids shared the same idea in a reductive manner. Where the possibility of a chance encounter was present in two parallel lines that could never meet. The two lines were bound to converge and meet if they were continuous.
At the beginning of the residency, I stated my intention to the technical director who suggested I build tools to create my piece. It was to be a 12.6 foot circle. I created one model and decided to stick with the intuitive nature of the first response to an idea. I created braces that would keep my parallel rods equidistant. And half pipes with a bolt that could swivel and tighten in order to hold my converging rods at the desired angle. I would then be able to weld the 1 inch rods together and build my piece. There were adjustable struts that would support the piece at the desired height while building it flat on the ground.
The sculpture was taking shape and so were my ideas of what it would symbolize. I created drawing and sketches with words from pickup sticks, Morse code and trapezoids. as well as drawings of the various tools I would make. Upon further introspection, I came across the word Intention. Reading the synonyms that relate to the word I found a fountain of meanings that related to my original idea.
The list goes like this:
the healing process of a wound
Name of the game
Nuts and bolts
I found it a beautiful word. It’s medical term made me think of the action of welding. Watching a molten red pool moving at the pace of blood from a wound stitching together two pieces of metal. Creating a bond that is permanent and could last beyond lifetimes. The rods and life lines would converge and never be separated. Such as the bond of friendship and love that is created when 2 people meet and share knowledge and ideas that are carried to the next person and the next and so on.
The outer circle that consists of converging lines would represent the universe. And the now off center circle in the middle would represent the unknown. One of the rods would continues into the empty circle representing the leaps we make into the unknown.