Lequeu 1
Lequeu 2
Lequeu 3

Lequeu 2


'Changing Out of a Dress' from Negotiations Towards a Self, 1770-1830

...The objective gaze is only an invention, an invention that withdraws the body in the hopes of establishing a conventional image of a body, of how the body should be seen. The body is re-marked.
It is a gaze that turns the body into a machine, into mechanical parts, reducing the body to machine, to architecture, (ex)posing the body as architecture.…

...Lequeu's drawings that reveal the human body in architecture and architecture in the human body (ex)pose the potential threat of a gaze that would simply order the body into regions to be known and observed, a body that may be policed, controlled, which may be easily read, a body that loses nothing and lacks nothing. The threat is a possible removal of the body through the use of the gaze, or rather a removal that presupposes that there is a body in the first place, a nostalgic myth of an (im)possible access to the real through the body, a withdrawal of the body that Lequeu is addressing and un-dressing by turning towards the sexual organs, imitating a certain ordering and organizing of these organs, imitating a certain distancing, the claim for an objective site/sight, and yet un-dressing this site/sight as incapable of reducing the body, of producing a body of knowledge that isn't the invention of a false sight/site, a site/sight of blindness, blind to the other, blind to the body, having to look away from the body, in order to know/no the body, negate the body in the name of science and knowledge.
        Lequeu un-dresses this gaze as caught up in a violent desire to possess the body, a desire structured around lack, focusing on how such a gaze results in the loss of the body, a loss that has always already occurred, returning this gaze to the origin of drawing, an origin caught up in desire and loss, an imaginary loss of something that wasn't there, staging the aftermath of desire, of the conversion of the body in his drawing One of the plain façades of the Menagerie of that most deserted spot, known as the place of transformations. Here Lequeu's marginalia takes up the themes and stories of Ovid's Metamorphosis, revealing the site/sight of desire's aftermath, a site/sight of the body's loss, a confrontation with the loss of the body. Lequeu writes "here the Propetides and Echo were metamorphosed into Rocks and bound together." Lequeu lists a series of other characters who were transformed, transformed by and through desire: Adonis, Narcissus, Olene, Atys, Pithys, Crocus, Cissus, Sycee, Argus, among others. Lequeu marks these transformations, these instances of the removal of the body as being located now in the most deserted spot, a spot without body, a spot of exile from the body, an exile caused by desire, by a desire unrequited, by lack, by a refusal of an assimilating gaze, a possessive gaze, a gaze that leads to the withdrawal of the body, a gaze that is caught up in the origin of drawing.
        Lequeu will implicate architecture in such a sight/site of desire, inscribing architecture's role in a scene of desire, specifically studying the labyrinth, a form that Lequeu not only shows an interest in within his drawings, his use of trap doors and secret passageways, but also in his means of organization, his cross-referencing, the labyrinthine quality to his œuvre.1 Lequeu, however, directly, frankly, raises the question of the labyrinth, or at least as directly as Lequeu ever does, in his drawing Tomb of Porsenna, a drawing that cites Pliny, but also digresses to give a history of the Labyrinth from Egypt to Crete to Lemnos to Etruria. Here Lequeu mentions the Minotaur the offspring of Pasiphae's copulation with a bull, a copulation aided by the architect Daedalus who constructed a life-like hollow cow (and Lequeu's "life-like" Cow Byre, Venturi's Duck House avant la lettre, should not be far from mind), Daedalus the architect of the labyrinth of Crete, who constructed the space of desire and desire's entrapment, Daedalus, as Lequeu mentions, who with his son Icarus tried to escape through flight, through constructed wings from this scene of desire.
        Lequeu, inheritor from Daedalus, ties architecture back to desire, back to the body, the body which has been withdrawn, drawn away, taken away, the body which is lost to desire, a body lost in desire, a desire structured around the body's lack, lost in the origin of drawing, lost to drawing. Lequeu somehow wants to return, recover this body, a physical body that is withdrawn in a new objectivity, but a body that is also lost at and in the origin of drawing, a body that is lost through the pursuits of desire, and in the pursuit of desire, a body whose loss is the very basis of desire. "The function of desire must remain in a fundamental relation with death." Lequeu focuses on a space where the body has been withdrawn, but he focuses on such spaces only in an attempt to un-dress the body's materiality, to strip it bare, to (ex)pose it, and through this (ex)posure to reveal the body's loss always already at the origin. He is trying to find a space where a body might exist, but this existence is cut across by a desirous gaze, by the gaze of the other, by a gaze that disrupts and contests bodily control, placing the body at constant risk of assimilation, elimination, of being set out in a desert, deserted, entrapped within a labyrinth, prisoner to desire, and prisoner due to desire....

1 I would also suggets Lequeu's method of hiding notes behind drawings, of inserting newspaper articles between drawings, of using flaps in his drawings to conceal differing versions of the same drawing, as a process of organization that incorporates a labyrinthine quality of trap doors and secret passage ways within the organization of Lequeu's ceuvre.