At only 33 years old, artist Emeric Lhuisset reaches beyond the boundaries of art and information through photographs, videos and installations based on a rich combination of analysis and field research. After graduating from the Beaux Arts in Paris, the École Normale Supérieure and Paris I, he blends today the duality of the Art world and geopolitics. His exhibition in Beirut was featured in Sursock Museum, within the collective expo “Let’s talk about the weather”.
Emeric Lhuisset grew up in the Parisian suburbs, away from the Parisian museums route, discovering art through his history and geography books, filled with works related to major historical events. “It has always fascinated me”, he said. “When I visited my grandmother, I read with interest her books dating from the 30s, and I realized that the perspective on events was different, which is quite interesting. I discovered History was not just one established truth, but a mutating story that could change with time.” Intrigued, he decided to understand.
Emeric studied maps then traveled to areas where major events were taking place, motivated by his insatiable desire to understand but also to intensely live these moments from within:“It’s fascinating to actually experience such stories: you’re not in the narrative, you’re the protagonist actively living through it.”
In addition, to his Art studies, he completed his academic journey with a theoretical foundation in geopolitics in order “to understand chain of events & elements that have created major changes in societies”, whether on the local, regional or international scenes.
Through his inspiring & rich work, Emeric Lhuisset aims to raise awareness on conflict stories emerging form zones he often visits such as Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Colombia. “I have noticed that conflict is very present in Western societies, whether it is in the media, the movies or video games. Yet the image that we are given is extremely fantasized. I wanted to question this representation and the staging’s taboo. Although a lot of people tend to attach staging to the idea of lying and manipulation, others have always defended its relation to reality, as Delacroix said about photography: “Accuracy is not the truth”. So, in many of my projects, we find this relation to reality.”
When the protests broke out in Ukraine in 2013, Emeric followed the developments from Paris. His research noticed a difference of treatment between pro-Western and pro-Russian media before the former Ukrainian president fled the country. “At that time, the country was under the control of the population, in this time-frame where everything seems possible, I decided to take a hundred portraits of the demonstrators as I gave them a questionnaire with two questions: what would like to happen now? What do you think will happen?
Although the pictures are “posed” they will certainly say more about what was Maydan than the photograph of a protester on a barricade holding a Molotov where, according to the caption attached to it, we can make it say anything and its opposite.”
Some might say he flirts with journalism, but his approach is different. Supported by extensive research and interviews with fellow colleagues Emeric’s workflow integrates long periods on the field with the people concerned, without any preset time-limit or production imperative, until inspiration & data finally bloom into a unique artistic creation.
However Emeric’s work isn’t just limited to conflict zones: “In December 2016, I will expose French flags in the streets of Paris, with Welcome marked on them using the serigraphy technique. In fact, I wish to reclaim this ambiguous symbol, not by approaching it as a nationalist symbol but rather as a cultural symbol. A representation of a diverse culture, whose richness comes from the coming together of different universes”.
At another level, Emeric is interested in the privatization of armed conflict and launched a website called “Mercenary International Corporation”, via which he received more than 400 CVs of mercenaries worldwide.
He is currently preparing a book with all of these previously anonymous CVs. Emeric Lhuisset first seeks to make phenomena visible, without bias, to make people question themselves, challenging their preconceptions. “Often, these are very complex situations, so I use aesthetics as a bait to catch the eye and lead the public to pause & think. I was very influenced by the poem ‘The Sleeper in the Valley’ ( Le Dormeur du Val) of Rimbaud. It begins by describing an idyllic landscape, almost a Garden of Eden, and only at the end, like a slap in the face, we understand that the young man who seems to sleep by the stream is a dead soldier.”
Emeric Lhuisset was part of the group exhibition “Let’s talk about the weather” presented at the Sursock museum in Beirut, Lebanon. This is actually a part of a more substantial work he created, reflecting on the issue of water in Iraq, threatened by a catastrophic human and environmental situation.
There Emeric puts into perspective the risks coming across, as we look at the ancient story of the Mesopotamian city of Girsu, destroyed in 2350 BC after 300 years of water wars.
Should you be visiting Paris next fall, you can discover his entire project that will be presented at the Arab World Institute ( Institut du Monde Arabe IMA) from September 29th to December 4th 2016.