Thomas Liu Le Lann - i'm not okay

31 May – 13 July 2019

Featured on:
Mousse Magazine
Tzvetnik

The first cut is the deepest. This phrase is not only the title of the popular and often covered love song by Cat Stevens: In our case, it can also be read as a comment on first sexual experiences as well as an anecdote about self-harm and emo culture.

For Thomas Liu Le Lann’s first solo presentation in Austria, we are confronted with a multilayered storyline that eludes itself from a clear chronology. We are presented a framework in which the border between romanticization and perversion is completely subjective and at times non-distinguishable. 
The terms shell and core gain relevance as the artist digs deeper into the structures of queer and especially homosexual affairs. We are witnesses to a hunt for intimacy.
The relationship between the “inwardness” of the artistic, poetic self and “outwardness”—an orientation to something beyond artistic communication—and the place in which that relationship can be established, are at question. When we understand intimacy as simultaneously nonexistent (in the sense of that securing actual privacy, especially nowadays, is impossible) and flooded with narcissist exaltation and public attention— the search for such itself becomes abundant. [1]

Underneath the as soft appearing surfaces of Thomas’ works, one often finds a form of poetic radicalism. They hold a sort of bravery with which his pieces talk not solely about contemporary aesthetics but evoke questions on sociopolitical circumstances such as mentioned above (e.g. the matter of intimacy). In their appearance similar to (animal-) hentai-porn —cute yet brutal, soft but harsh at the same time —they dare the audience to gaze. They demand for a reflection of the associations we have with certain materials and their contextualization in the given space. 
They hit home where public and private realms collapse.

Besides alluring historical figures like Saint Stanislaus, over whom the artist stumbled and afterwards obsessed during a trip to Rome, his education in a strictly conservative school further inspired the process of creating his recent pieces, some of them presently being exhibited. 
Childhood memories are recollected and approached from a distanced, queer perspective. Ultimately, they are forced into a symbiosis with present-day objects representing a cult of ordering online, such as zombie knives or steel butt plugs. 
With “i’m not okay” the artist’s feelings, affections, desires and even secrets are on display for everyone to see. 

Julius Pristauz



[1] Jörg Heiser, “Moscow, Romantic, Conceptualism, and After,” e-flux (November 2011)

come here

come here

maybe we could

we could find the anchor

you and me

water will somehow

reach the same level

in all parts of the system

even with me inside

swimming

it doesn't make any difference

at all

at all

this constant repetition

makes me feel close to you

like a steady drumbeat

unifying your melody


come here

come here


I heard your voice in the dark

anchored by a hair between my curious fingers

I grabbed it and that voice came rushing through

It crumbled, I saw it cleary

it was so there shimmering behind

for some instants I just lay

as you place and I displace

lagged love approacher


vocal chords were hanging from chains attached to the curtain

propelled away

when the trickling tongue quit dramaturges

they smashed onto the walls

swallowing tears

lipbiting reverberating


till they go

till they go


lips on a stone

face against the foam

the fluids leave you, dissolving in the big pool

maintained by chlorides and spit

I can refeel cold water streaking and beating

the hydrophone kept me wading through


I am available

I am available


salt missing

shallow sea water


no support for the drenched hound, that I seem to be

restlessly sending out waves to detect movement

these wavy rigid sides

turning around

then this straight line

I lost all of them

encrusted jewels

one by one

as I scratched the surface with my fidgety fingers

and the hands before they go

imagine the hands

loosing hair grip


she takes the script down to the shore

dressed in the landscape dress

that organ piece should bring the fish these sounds

hello fish dancing

get hooked and fished

my mouth opens so widely to encircle this one big pore

push the last sounds out

the water is a barrier at first

not taking in the waves I´m sending

listen to me please

I´m all dried out in this wet wet pond

there's love for you


I feel like mangrove breathing-tubes

sometimes even being smashed

or carried away by rough waves

always lying down a few feet from the tide


but the clouds

but the clouds


leaving streaks and breaking off the chains

dropping to a hissing whisper

twisting the knife still further

automation was the fear

and for years your operation on me has been unclear to me

the voice has disappeared for some time now

stuck in its once initial harbor

it escaped its censure

let them fall let them break

maybe let them loose what they had to say

call it an operetta of sinking skills


salt missing

shallow sea water


how can I empathize with a fish

these layered structures

a set of small rigid plates

it's your lamellar body armor

almost inaudible

behind these plates I change my octave

water will still diffuse into the fish

this way we must come together

come together