Leo Gabin (b.2000)


Leo Gabin is the name of a trio of artists who live and work in Ghent, Belgium. Active since 2000, the trio consists of Lieven Deconinck, Gaëtan Begerem, and Robin De Vooght. All three artists received their BFA from The Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, where Leo Gabin currently teaches as a collective.

Their latest project involved the video adaptation of a 1998 novel by Harmony Karine: A Crack Up at the Race Riots. As an amalgamation of "short stories, list, rumors, suicide notes and jokes" the novel was suitable for translation into the kind of YouTube sourced content with which Leo Gabin had previously worked. Leo Gabin used fragments of amateur footage uploaded by teenagers; absurd clips of girls rapping or practicing dance routines in their living rooms. Set in Florida at the time of the property and later economic crash, the video, like the novel, presents a location tinged with melancholia and decay not through linear narrative but through fragments of the lives of the young people living there, fragments which these young people chose to contribute to an ever-increasing mass of content readily available online. The question of authorship raised by this kind of assemblage "can be seen as the essence of the work" according to Leo Gabin; the presence of this footage in the public domain challenges any notion of private ownership.

Accompanying the video in solo exhibitions of the work was a series of paintings incorporating collaged images of Florida analogous to the video's collaged footage. Like the video, the paintings refuse narrative as the images of a certain culture belonging to Florida are set indiscriminately amongst gestural areas or blank, effaced spaces, suggestive of the decay which Leo Gabin felt to be the mood of Karine's novel as well as earlier street art influences.