It was just another frosty morning, lying in bed under layers of doona warmed up by body heat and distraction, as I lost hours submerging digitally into a new portal.
Scrolling, pulling in and caressing my eyes was a visual feast called LEXI LAND and her portrayal of a stark and subliminally wonderful universe.
Having taken some distance from those haunting scenes, I muse at how to convey those esoteric visions via words, especially when she has a better run of elucidating on those images herself:
“Optical dreamer your windows are open, the electronic sensors with their crystalline lenses, are drinking the light! Open – shut – open… the backs of your lids are drawn to paint the darkness. Your visual cortex flies like a ghost through your skull, it has always been free… no bone can contain the invisible. Your celestial spark spirals on silken threads, it is in the company of dreams, it sews delicately and without effort through the great unknown.Your axis – like the horizon can not be found, objects are a mirage that bind” —Lexi Land
That was, for instance her beautiful ode to the eyes and the unknown.
HIT PLAY >> Surreal as the Day They Found Me, Lexi Land
Further quotations from Rilke, Duchamp and Kahlo pepper her feed as way of narrating her art, that creative medicine and existential urge that carries little regard for where it’s heading beyond its impulsive expression.
More gorgeous verse, by way of explanation.
“The figure comes into ‘being’ like the seed of a wild vine desperate to breathe… it pushes up gasping for air, it coils and dances around the trunk of an ancient tree, swallowing each moment, it grows until it reaches the endless sky” —Lexi Land
“In a trance, my hand becomes like breath, life-force quivers through me, I am moved by the vibration of an unseen whisper… art for me is like the night, dark and spacious… when day breaks, the light reveals what was always there. The unknown – becomes known and will forever remain unknown.” —Lexi Land
Lexi Land is a 30-ish imp, with a compelling yet delicate presence, offset by wide, deep eyes and a girlish body that appears frequently on her well-scrolled Instagram feed.
To Lexi, her body is the ultimate creative vessel, a carnal resource to be used to shape story or translate feeling, instinctively bending and exposing itself to a demiurgic trance. She unmasks with masks, distorting and projecting, cutting her own moving image from video footage and setting it to impulsive-psychotic sound recordings. Guttural reverberations grow and explode as we witness what seems to be a multitude of births, the artist’s raw and arresting schizophrenic vision building to morph into something holistic, precise and profound.
I wonder, does she ever feel vulnerable or self-conscious exposing herself both physically and emotionally in ode to her art?
“No, I’ve never had that,” comes the assured explanation. “I’m looking in and sharing that inward experience – the best way to describe what I’m trying to say, comes from an interview with René Magritte in which he said:
‘that is to say… I try to live, life itself, as if it were a work of art!’ — Magritte
Art is an opening, a crack that lets the light in. I’m curious and I like putting things on the table – life, sex, death… I put myself on the table, but it’s not myself— it’s just another breath… I am exploring being alive, that’s where I live and that’s where I’ll die.”
That morning, I move through videos of disfigurement, at once beautiful and tormented. They have a possessed, discombobulated and asylum-like quality, a disassociation quite at odds with the artist’s depth of presence. Existential themes, exploring the human conditions pepper her feed (which has been shut down by Instagram various times) and sometimes delve into a transient, orgiastic eroticism.
It seems she is scratching at the surface of something, a repetitive technique I’ve seen laced throughout her work, but why, one wonders, where does it stem from?
“I was working in the film lab of a photographic studio, and occasionally photographers would ask to take my portrait,” commences Land as way of explanation. “I’d print proof sheets and find myself playing with them. I’d spit on the photos and scratch the surface with a metal dentist tool; seeing the emulsion melt away, half a face, my nipple peeling off… it was satisfying to see what was, transforming into something new. Destructing an image, then recreating it – each print would experience a type of history, it existed for my eyes only as it evolved. It had a birth, a life and a death. It was endlessly entertaining, until I was eventually let go from the studio for being too distracted!”
The images and multimedia clips that have evolved from this play however are strikingly chic and beautiful. As an observer, I have an image of her impulsively clutching at and devouring mediums until the stories of the images are told.
So is her work examining something esoteric or rather, her earthly identity? She concedes, a bit of both.
“I’m intrigued by the concept of being human, the spirit and the shell… I began to develop this idea deeply when I was working on ‘Illuminating Darkness’ a series of self-portraits I exhibited in 2013.”
“An image hit me one day… my pupils were cut out and floating in space, and I thought they look like ‘shiny black eye-berries’… then I started to contemplate, what do I become if all my pieces are dismantled? So I began to form a library of body parts, looking at the physical structure of my body, I photographed every part then dissected it, separating all the pieces and rearranging them to form layer and depth. I was exploring what lies between shadow and light and what are we, beyond the physical.”
The eye is beautiful, but its disturbance only evokes a mystery. And it is this very stir of the soul that Lexi hopes to create. She is asking us to look within and find our own source of depth and wonder, something to break us open, a freedom to expand beyond and to be elementally alive. If as human beings, we need to feel more and be affected by the existence around us, then her honesty guides us there.
The works aren’t so much a studied technique or a delineation of a classical method, but rather an evolving dance, a meditation that marks her dedication to her art, an expression of life’s carnal longings and beyond, As she says, everything in your past — everything in your future, are just figments of our imagination.
The depth and honesty of this art requires devotion, with each contemplating move and stroke, everything is intended and deliberate. The presence she brings to every piece must be profound. Addiction, destruction and movement take turns within a cathartic process within.
Most at home within her own deep solitude, Lexi leads an isolated existence in the lush hills of Ubud. Nature is her inspiration, a marriage from within and without that keeps her plugged into this expressive universe.
Such a creative process begins with an emotive scent – like a taste, it arrives on the tongue and as the sensation develops so does the thing she is chewing on. To flesh-out the skeleton of what she is sensing, she uses words that she scribbles in a journal. That hunch, then unravels to take shape in multi-dimensions in a creative frenzy of drawing, movement/performance, sound and video art; the synthesis of layers she creates unite in a moving, odd and highly evocative performance – in person or on film.
‘I use whatever I can reach in the moment – I am the nucleus / the medium and life is my muse’
Does she ever find moments like the rest of us, when we’re not feeling creative?
“I am pretty much always making something, taking a shower can be turned into a work of art!” she says.
“Recently however, I hit a wall. I’ve been working in the studio day and night and I reached a point where I felt completely empty, it made me think ‘shit where’d it go… what if it doesn’t come back?!’ I spent a week feeling void of anything – then I realised that even though I wasn’t physically making anything – something was growing and needed space to develop. When these moments arise, and they do from time to time, I remind myself that I am creating —it just isn’t visible yet!”
The artist’s latest series began during a Balinese art residency, hosted by an eccentric French artist and collector, who’s friends and colleagues have included artists such as: Arman, Andy Warhol, César, Keith Haring, Vasarely and Salvador Dali. The previous artist-in-residence at the unique villa/museum was Damien Hirst and the space exhibits an incredible collection of art and curiosities.
As she describes it, each morning ancient objects would journey from all over Indonesia to the villa gates, and Lexi, who is at that time likely enjoying her first cup of Bali Kopi, would be treated to a exclusive ‘show and tell’. As mysterious, sacred and ceremonial artefacts would appear before her, so would a passionate explanation to accompany why each piece was collected and what was unique and inspiring about it. Not a day went by throughout her 3 month stay at the art villa, where her eyes weren’t transfixed by a fascinating discovery.
Her new work has journeyed through a 12 year relationship break-up, an engagement and 5 different locations, including the move from Australia to Bali, following her dad’s tragic passing.
To quote on her page:
At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can” #fridakahlo.
I am curious about this new series, hearing that it’s been buried, scratched, soiled with coffee and burned.
“This series has been the hardest I’ve worked on… it honestly feels like like the work has a life of it’s own” she concedes. “The paper came from Paris, the vision was to create elegant pieces, beautiful fine-lines, of delicate flesh and bone… but the nature of things, the heat of Bali, all the travel, wouldn’t allow for it… the paper got scuffed and I experienced some pretty interesting times, it got to a point where I realised I had no control over what it was becoming, so I embraced it. Now, I’m spitting, using coffee, ash and tearing gaping holes in it… it reflects a deep organic urge and the impulse to be raw with my expression.”
“When it feels ready I plan to bury the work in the earth. I want to form a performance around that process, then, once they’ve had some time underground – I’ll dig them up and capture the delicacy I was originally seeking by incasing the figures in elegant frames.”
It’s the first time the artist is not using herself in the image. There are only five large-scale works in this collection, and one has already been acquired by a private collector while others have several expressions of interest.
Not that commercial reality is much more than a necessary afterthought.
Considering the vulnerable nature of her work, it would make sense she doesn’t yearn to get overexposed. The works have a vibration and a life force, there is an instinct as to how they’re gifted, priced or handled, and which homes they invariably go to.
Nevertheless, I press her to get an agent and get these charged up gems out into the world, for their beauty, rawness and sheer impact. Even this brief connection on our Skype call has left an activation within I haven’t felt for a while.
Living in the hills of Ubud, I do wonder whether such an escapist environment lends itself to meditative expression more so than apartment living. Another quote springs to mind from her page, as instant way of explanation.
“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence – we could rise up rooted, like trees #rilke
“You’re environment could be anywhere, for instance, ‘you’ in the jungle or ’You’ in a box.” Lexi assures me, as I contemplate my own creative reality in a city apartment. “The thing that remains is ‘you’. Experience has no limits, whatever imagined —‘is’.”
She is telling a story of humanity, of worlds beyond and worlds beneath the surface.
“The sky is a major source of inspiration – I am a star gazer… I like classical music, imagination and dreams.”
So when then, does this existence peak?
“Every day reaches a pinnacle and everyday is a highlight.”
With those words, I leave her, in anticipation of what else comes through.