PIERRE LEICHNER Artist Statement

Over the past few years I have transitioned from a thirty-year career as an academic psychiatrist to that of an artist. This desire is fueled by a lifelong dream and also by my dismay at the direction our health care system has been taking. I have now become aware of many of the similarities between Science and Art. At their core, they share the pursuit of meaning. However, whereas Science claims to use mostly objective and quantitative methods, Art uses more qualitative and abstract means. I have always used a multi-factorial approach in my research. This appreciation is reflected in most of my works in that they address biological, psychological, social/cultural, political and spiritual issues simultaneously. This has led me to use multi-sensoriality in most of my projects.

I believe that as an artist I have a responsibility to communicate with my audience – that my intentions, at some level, should be accessible to most people. I am drawn to using elements of surprise, paradox and humour to do this.

My earlier work explored the permeable and shifting border between aggressive and sexual impulses. My autobiographical project De 0 à 13 made me aware that memory was fiction, fluctuating, rhizomatic and multisensorial. Projects such as Skin Deep and Food Wars also confronted current sociopolitical issues. In Pairings, I combined food and skin on by covering coffee tables and mirrors with photographs of skin and serving food on them. Many of my installations also include a sound exploration.

Through these projects and in my writings, I have become interested in the phenomena of consciousness and transcendence. Consciousness is something we all experience and create. In my essay, From Transcendence to Altercendence, I suggest that BioArt may open new horizons to artists.

Thus, my recent projects The Root Laboratory Project and Jardin Biologique # 8 put me in a collaborative dependency with living food to represent sociopolitical and spiritual issues. Thus, they borrow from BioArt, Installation Art, Land Art and Relational Aesthetics theories. The roots and the vegetables of the plants become the sculptural forms, the means of expression. Both the process of growth and decay are displayed and documented.

For my ongoing altered books project The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders Text Re –Revised and Related Texts. I sculpted books and paper cast objects while documenting the process with photographs, a time-lapse video, and sound. This critique of this classification system is the first in which I fuse my artistic and psychiatric skills and knowledge. I now identify myself as an artist researcher. I am interdisciplinary in my practice as I use various media as suitable to explore the topics I research. Having now obtained my Masters in Fine Arts I plan to practice full-time as an artist and teacher. As a scientist/health care provider, I have wanted to help others in need. As an artist, I want to be part of the journey of our consciousness in our pursuit of meaning.