»To Brace, place your feet flat on the floor, cross your wrists and hold on to the seatback in front of you. Rest your head on your wrists. Passengers seated in a front row: place your feet flat on the floor, bend over, place your face in your lap, put your arms under your legs and grasp your elbows.«
Lukas Heerich (born 1989) is presenting his first solo exhibition in Düsseldorf. He studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf where he became Meisterschüler of Andreas Gursky and is graduating from Städelschule Frankfurt in 2020. – Reflecting on personal and collective narratives of protection, isolation and control, German multimedia artist Lukas Heerich situates a first solo exhibition in his hometown of Dusseldorf inside a windowless room at the Studio for Artistic Research. The result of a dedicated study into the scientific and aesthetic scope of control practices, this site-specific work encompasses a ‘pink-out’; walls and floors are spray-coated in Phos-Chek, a tinted flame retarding formula utilized on the field by ground and aerial crews to contain forest fires. Within nature, these phosphate and sulfate-heavy formulas reduce the flammability of cellulose structures, later acting as fertilizer in the wake of disaster. In this inert concrete environment, their function is neutralized, and their odour contained – multiplying side-effects whilst nullifying intent.
Fading from bright red to an innocent fleshy pink, the dripping surfaces frame the installation’s ghostly protagonists – a dozen pairs of black rubber safety boots arranged in a 5 x 3 matrix. The boots are based on a specialized flat-soled model developed for constant desinfection to avoid dirt and cross-contamination in industrial production. Untouched by Phos-Chek, the chemical-grade moulded footwear is perfectly clean yet left unfinished, curling with waste rubber at the toes and seams as though victims of unseen flames. Three pairs of missing boots leave clear footprints on the concrete, leaving an ambiguous void in the otherwise cohesive formation.
Text: Dan Thawley