You Could Live Here Too – Luke Siemens

The following images are of Luke Siemens’ exhibition You Could Live Here Too which ran from November 1 to December 5, 2014.

View of After Day on Studio Floor, Condo: Exterior, Layered Building and Shredded for Packing Material

View of Slept On, Ripped After Water Damage; Stuck in Vaccum Hose while Cleaning; and After Day on Studio Floor

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Interview with Luke Siemens

Line Gallery: For your MFA you focused in drawing. At what point did you realize that drawing was something that you would pursue and why drawing as opposed to another way of working?

Luke Siemens: Post high school I studied classical animation, where the focus was specifically on drawing and line. I was one of the least skilled students and had to work really hard to catch up. That challenge and output of energy invested me heavily in drawing as a medium. The program also reinforced activities I had done since childhood, creating characters and worlds, which further solidified drawing as something viable to me.

I eventually left animation to do a BFA, where I thought I’d tackle painting. I painted for three years until it was time for my BFA show. I realized I didn’t have an affinity for paint and pulled a hard switch back to drawing. When I look back at that switch and where I am now, it is apparent that my drawings don’t take much advantage of the spontaneity of the medium, so perhaps it’s the preparatory association, the structural focus of drawing that continues to make it work for me.

Since then I’ve dabbled in other media. The laser cut building in “You Could Live Here Too” for example. I have yet to build up the same affinity for it as drawing. While the laser cut building is reliant on drawing as much as my works on paper, it was a slog to get through. I am a digital person, I spend a LOT of time online, but making that piece in Adobe Illustrator doubled the time I spend in front of my laptop. It changed the speed of the project and the type of focus. It was a different kind of thinking. It didn’t give my physical meat the same workout. For that reason drawing will likely remain a key focus in my practice.

 

LG: In your recent series You Could Live Here Soon, you have allowed activities from your daily life to infiltrate the work. Can you speak a little about how you’ve done this and why embedding these activities was important?

LS: The works in “You Could Live Here Too” come from my investigations into Toronto’s numerous condo developments (there are two condo construction sites a block away from my house).I became interested in condo presentation centres, the showrooms where you go to buy a condo in a future development. They are generally small spaces that look a lot like art galleries – white cubes that fit themselves into the urban landscape, but seek to project you beyond the everyday through an aesthetic experience.

Every presentation centre has at least these three things in common:

1) A model of the proposed building

2) Lifestyle images of the neighbourhood and the condos.

3) Floor Plans

*( a bigger presentation centre might have a fake room, representing the average unit)

In my trips to condo presentation centres, the consistency of the floor plan image was striking. No matter what type of condo presentation centre, glamourous or run-of-the-mill, the architectural drawing style is there. It weirdly connects all of the different developments into one single proposition. It is the “fact” of the building’s intent, mixing with whatever loose branding the development has constructed. This drew the majority of my focus.

In working with this imagery, it was humorous to me to “accept” the condo’s proposal in a literal way, by bringing the floor plans themselves into my life in much the same way a teenager will take a discarded coke-a-cola poster or street sign and use it as bedroom decoration. The act has some veneration to it, but it also becomes a hybrid of the individual and the product; a push and pull of identity creation and destruction.

I printed out condo floor plans and put them everywhere. They were on my bed, in my studio, on my dog, in my fridge, bending and folding, taking the stresses of my daily life. I drew the results, putting the crumpled plans forward as things to build from. The idea was that anything built off these plans would accommodate my life, instead of me passively submitting to someone else’s future plans.

As I progressed, the plans themselves became less inactive and more tool-like. I used one for packing material, I folded another into a fan on a day with no AC, another plan served as a pencil holder. The final plan drawing was a mask made out of a floor plan. In that drawing the plan started to become a cultural object, part of an identity. The gesture in that drawing is small, I’m not sure if it’s more condo or more me. Something to explore in future drawings perhaps.

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Luke Siemens Artist Talk and Reception

On November 21, 2014 Line Gallery hosted Luke Siemens’ reception. He also gave an artist talk on November 22, 2014 at Line Gallery.

Luke Siemens' reception with Layered Building, Instructions: Brick and Instructions: Girders in the background

Luke Siemens' artist talk at Line Gallery