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Lucas Leffler, experimental photographer

In the digital age, he returns to the sources of photography. As an alchemist, he brings back the stories of the past and uses the material to transform them into modern fables.

“The strength of a photograph is its anchorage in reality,” says Lucas Leffler. This precept is his guiding principle, whether he dives into the memory of the past or plays with the material. Having come to photography through the study of its history and techniques, he discovered his calling as a visual artist by embarking on experimental practices. In 2017, even before obtaining his master’s degree at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Gent (the Gasq) two years later, he started a work on the silver photography industry and its remnants. After exploring the Ilford factory in Manchester, he turned his attention to the Agfa-Gevaert factory in Antwerp. In his archives, he unearthed an anecdotal and fabulous story: for nearly thirty years, a worker collected the mud of a river, which had become silver-bearing as a result of the factory’s waste, in order to extract the precious metal using ingenious processes. Like an archaeologist, Lucas Leffler went in search of the stream. He added silver nitrate to the mud to make it photosensitive and made photographs of the material, evoking the landscape where it was collected. sensitive and made photographs of the material, evoking the landscape where it was collected. Called Zilverbeek – silver river in Flemish – this mise en abyme seduced the Antwerp Museum of Photography (FOMU) and the Élysée Museum in Lausanne, which included these works, which tell the mythology of a stream, in their collections. While continuing his mud prints, the Belgian artist turned to other artistic performances. He experiments with darkroom photography and prints industrial images on steel sheets, whose oxidation offers him many plastic possibilities. With his Crescent project, he explores the materiality of photography through silver nitrate, studying its facets from mining to the chemical reaction of acid-reduction. From its crystallizations, he has created a constantly evolving photographic sculpture, symbolically titled The Tree of Diana, which alchemists associated with silver. With Lucas Leffler, photography enters a new dimension.

Lucas Leffler présenté par la galerie Intervalle
Paris Photo – Grand Palais éphémère

Avenue Pierre-Loti, 75007 Paris
Du 11 au 14 novembre

Biennale de l’image tangible – Galerie Ménil’8
8, rue Boyer, 75020 Paris
Du 16 au 29 novembre

By Sophie Reyssat