Lucas Leffler (1993, Virton, Belgium) is an experimental photographer based in Brussels who graduated in photography from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Gent in 2019. The artist searches for innovative and long-forgotten photographic techniques, fascinated by the materiality of photography. Leffler’s work is based on a strong interest in science and the myths and facts of photography history and is stimulated by a fascination with chemistry. He sees the nature of photography close to alchemy and tends to expand it to other forms like sculpture or installation.
Past exhibitions include the Elysée Museum (Lausanne, CH), FOMU the Photo Museum Antwerp (Antwerp, BE), Paris Photo and Art Paris (Paris, FR), Unseen (Amsterdam, NL), Salon Approche (Paris, FR), Hangar Photo Art Center (Brussels, BE), Biennale of the Tangible Image (Paris, FR), Centre d’Art Contemporain du Luxembourg Belge (Étalle, BE), PhotoBrussels Festival (Brussels, BE) and ManifestO Festival (Toulouse, FR). In 2022, Leffler was shortlisted for C/O Berlin Talent Award. His work is in the collections of Fotomuseum Antwerpen, Musée de l’Elysée, Fondation Boghossian, Contretype and Carrefour des Arts Foundation.
Zilverbeek (Silver Creek)
In 2017, Lucas Leffler pursued research about the history of the Belgian Agfa-Gevaert imaging factory. As a by-product of the production of photographic film, an extensive amount of silver was accidentally disposed of into a stream near Antwerp with the wastewater. The discharge coloured it fully black and gave it new names – Zwarte gracht (Black Ditch), or Zilverbeek (Silver Creek). The story goes that a factory worker has discovered the outflow and secretly recovered up to half a ton of silver per year from the sludge.
Leffler experimented with the visual facets of this story. The artist found archival material, newspaper clippings and historical documents. He photographed both the remains of the factory and the creek. Just like the pioneer before him, Leffler collected mud from the bottom of Silver Creek, trying to find traces of silver and produce his own photographic emulsion. The resulting series Zilverbeek (Silver Creek) can be seen as an artistic and photographic experiment. It consists of unique silver gelatin and UV prints on (rusted) steel sheets and experimental silver ‘mud prints’ with the sludge from the river incorporated in the emulsion. Leffler deconstructs traditional darkroom processes and recomposes them again with the use of these added materials. In this way, the subject and object of the Silver Creek story merge into one in Leffler’s work.
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