Lieven Lahaye

Hard Sun

Playing from speakers positioned on benches is the text Hard Sun, published in Catalog #20. Its title is derived from an anagram created from the name of the relatively little known American writer, Duncan Smith. Smith, who only briefly appears in Hard Sun, was the focal point of Catalog #17. Alongside Lieven Lahaye’s text Impressed, which delves into his life and legacy, Catalog #17 also features Smith’s essay Everybody Wants Exposure, offering commentary on Americans’ fascination with media and attention, and drawing a comparison between bleaching of blue jeans to developing photos in a darkroom.

Duncan Smith was one of the victims of the HIV epidemic that ravaged America during the 1980s and 1990s. This epidemic disproportionately affected marginalised members of society, including Latinos, African Americans and individuals within the queer community. Smith is just one of numerous artists from the so-called Lost Generation who succumbed to the epidemic at the peak of their creative endeavours, often before attaining widespread recognition, thereby leaving behind a rich and diverse, yet largely overlooked creative legacy.

Catalog #17 stands out as one of the scarce sources of information regarding Smith’s life and work, illuminating a neglected and nearly invisible archive among numerous others of its kind.

Hard Sun comprises diverse fragments exploring themes such as the sun, light, visibility, invisibility, fading, electricity and heat. Belonging to the audio piece are faded, stained and worn receipts sourced from various places: an Italian restaurant, Lebanon and Maxima supermarket. These receipts serve as companions to the text emanating from the speakers and set the stage for the artwork exhibited on the wall. I find myself continuously searching, seeking deeper significance behind these receipts. Why Maxima? Perhaps merely because the receipt happened to rest on Lieven’s studio windowsill at the opportune moment, gradually fading into obscurity.