Each Number Equals One Inhalation and One Exhalation, the current exhibition at Jane Lombard Gallery by the collaborative team of Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens, offers a thoughtful and creative glimpse into the history of human labor in the industrial and post-industrial era. At first glance, the dozens of small-scale sculptures scattered on tabletops throughout the exhibition resemble a Lilliputian carnival of sorts. Gleefully colorful and made of materials like wood sticks, string, and bright translucent acrylic panels, the varying geometry of the works demand closer examination.
Each work is labeled with its descriptive, labor-related title (i.e. Percentage of Participants that Perceive the Work Environment as Supportive) – instantly instilling the exhibition with a deeper proletarian meaning, without diminishing the visual pleasures of the works. While informative to the works and an interesting addition to the way one goes about interpreting each one, the titles often do not seem to describe what is being visualized – rather they work to add a general gravitas to what are otherwise festive works of art. The individual titles are appropriated from data gathered about the modern labor force since the mid-nineteenth century; the dawn of the Industrial revolution through today, reinforcing what has and has not changed about the way we work in this relatively short period of history.
This theme of human labor carries through to a video by the duo in the gallery’s back room, titled Real Failure Needs No Excuse. The video follows a series of ephemeral actions, providing a visual narrative, albeit one that is arguably unproductive, that reinforces the data-based impressions percolating amongst the exhibited sculptures.
All in all, Ibghy and Lemmens’ work in Each Number Equals One Inhalation and One Exhalation explores serious concepts about productivity and lifestyle while creating a metropolis of sculptures that stand as works on their own, uniquely combining intelligence with crafty ingenuity.
Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens: Each Number Equals one Inhalation and one Exhalation at Jane Lombard Gallery from April 13 – May 26, 2017.