Erik, Atomium, Bruxelles, November 2015
Erik, Port House, Anvers, November 2015
Erik, Philarmonie de Paris, September 2015
Erik, Tours Aillaud, Nanterre, December 2015
LEA LUND & ERIK K
ETAPES // STAGES
Lea Lund & Erik K
A World of Their Own
“The dandy must aspire to be sublime without interruption,” wrote Charles Baudelaire.
From the first, the dandy was understood as an outsider, a figure living, as Baudelaire said, “outside the law,” an elegant presence whose very elegance expressed a rejection of bourgeois norms.
Congolese born, Erik K is a dandy worthy of Baudelaire and, in this collaborative project, the subject of Lea Lund’s camera-gaze.
One portion of the Étapes photographs capture Erik K as he makes his way across Europe—Rotterdam, Seville, Marseille, Berlin. He surveys the wreckage of the continent’s great cities, appraising an abandoned building in Lausanne, striding through rubble in Basel, loitering at the skeletal shell of the Paris Philharmonic. These particular images—of an urbane black man contemplating the post-apocalyptic ruins of Western civilization—can be read as a sardonic critique of a culture that brutally colonized Africa.
But these two artists have far more on their collective mind than post-colonialist political commentary and the decline of the West. Taken as a whole, Étapes is a romance in the Tristan and Isolde tradition: here, the lovers turn away from the fallen world, seeking refuge in one another.
For Lund and Erik K are lovers, and like couples throughout time, they have made a world of their own. Escaping to the privacy of the studio, they have staged as well a series of hybrid images—portraits and nature mortes all at once. The fusion of those particular genres is key, with the still life reminding us of the transience of the very life the portrait seeks to preserve.
Like carefully constructed shrines to the idealized beloved, these images struggle to preserve an immortal love in a transitory world. In Fleurs IV, a portrait of Erik K crowns an abundance of flowers and jewels, all preserved under a bell jar. Elsewhere, his recumbent figure, in a pose reminiscent of the Crucifixion, lies in a bier of flowers past their full bloom.