Volatile, tender, visceral, solitary: such is the work of Erik Hart and Tati Lëshkina, a visual art duo who operate under the collective moniker, Hart+Lëshkina. Based in New York, Hart and Lëshkina’s diacritic practice is widely informed by the transience of time and human experience, and spans the fields of photography, moving imagery, installation, sculpture and printed matter – creating a raw, highly-ephemeral aesthetic that routinely elicits wonder, shock and awe.
This September sees the pair launch an evocative new monograph entitled, Beyond the Clouds – a tangible counterpart to their recent solo exhibit of the same name. “Beyond the Clouds was a found phrase that we discovered on the label of a bottle of wine that one of our subjects drank during a sitting,” reveals Hart. “It’s abstract and evokes a floating feeling, it also draws associations with transcendence,” he continues. “We knew that was going to be the title [of the series] the minute we said it out loud together.”
Designed by the esteemed Japanese art director and graphic designer Hideki Nakajima, to whom Hart and Lëshkina were introduced to in Tokyo last September, the book is a delicately composed series of still life photographs and portraits, bound, as Lëshkina explains, “by the desire to transcend their physicality.” Indeed, all of the objects and materials pictured throughout are united by their varying states of impermanence. Ice melts; foamy suds glaze the surface of an outstretched palm; flowers suffocate under the mesh impression of nude tights; a pearl appears tucked into a pocket of flesh, slit sharply like a fish’s gill. While, simple pieces of clothing “all found on the outskirts of Moscow” act as a physical thread that connects the diverse assembly of individuals who appear in the portraits, presented, Lëshkina explains, “in various states of undress, isolated against plain white backgrounds.”
Below, Hart and Lëshkina expand upon the concept and realisation of their curious new book.
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