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Lieven Lahaye and Ott Metusala. Catalog issue 24: Coverage

Curated by Siim Preiman

Tomorrow, on 5 April at 5pm, the exhibition Catalog #24: Coverage will open at Tallinn City Gallery. Catalog is a serial publication about cataloging, edited by Lieven Lahaye and designed by Ott Metusala. The new issue addresses the process of cataloging and the messy or even accidental connections between archival materials and other bits of fleeting information that make up the greater whole. The curator of the exhibition is Siim Preiman.


Catalog is a publication made in support of or as part of various events and exhibitions, where visuals, texts and quotes probe the nuances of the information sphere, placing archiving at the forefront as the central research topic and examining its materiality. Starting from 2016 and initially appearing as poster foldouts, the publications will eventually form a cohesive book. Along with this conceptual framework, each issue brings forth a multitude of creative questions. Texts respond to what has already been published, thus laying the groundwork for future issues, yet the end of the book is far from certain. When designing the publication, one must consider both the poster and book formats, ensuring that the design withstands two completely different presentation styles.


With each new edition, Catalog continues to expand, until it becomes a complete book, a catalog. This rhizomatic collage fluctuates between density and sparsity, sometimes branching out infinitely, sometimes leading to dead ends. The fragments of information found in the booklets enrich history, assign meaning to the previously meaningless and often sprout from the authors’ childhoods or personal conversations.


Alongside showcasing the previously published editions and artworks, the exhibition at Tallinn City Gallery will present a new issue complemented by a mural and objects that stem from the box as a primary unit of archiving, but ultimately visualize the messy, but wide and delicate constellation of quotes, ideas and items that accompany the process of cataloging, of compiling an archive. Among other things, the previous editions have delved into the practice of designer Kristi Metusala, Ott’s grandmother; the little known author Duncan Smith; and the rubble women who cleaned up the debris of post-WWII Berlin. The artworks on display at the City Gallery are part of an ongoing subseries of Catalog, exploring the theme of near invisibility.


„Browsing through the previous editions and engaging in conversations with the authors, I felt myself repeatedly searching for the center, the essence at the heart of the data cloud of Catalog. I reflected on the various collections of data, both tangible and abstract, I have compiled throughout my life. I reflected on post-truth, information noise, centralised and decentralised information networks, conspiracy theories and inevitably, lizards. Then, by chance, my gaze fell upon  a postcard on a bench in Lieven’s studio, with an inscription: “When you return to your teenage bedroom and realise you were a librarian all along.” Suddenly, everything clicked into place,” Siim Preiman, curator of the exhibition, describes the durational project.


The exhibition will be accompanied by a reading event, An Evening of Tales, on 17 May, organised in collaboration with Daylight Project, as well as the presentation of Catalog #25. How to get – – > there on 31 May, published alongside an exhibition at O–Overgaden in Copenhagen. Contributing authors include Phil Baber, Carlo Canún and Meg Miller.


The exhibition will be open at the Tallinn City Gallery from 5 April to 9 June 2024.

Lieven Lahaye (1985, Belgium) is an artist and publisher interested in the value of ephemeral information and amateur practices. He produces printed matter, texts, objects and performances with the aim of cataloging, reactivating, highlighting and sharing information.

Lahaye studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam and LUCA School of Arts Brussels and has participated in residencies at WIELS, Brussels and Air Berlin Alexanderplatz. He teaches writing at the Estonian Academy of Arts, to students in the master’s programmes of Graphic Design and Contemporary Arts.


Ott Metusala (1988, Estonia) is a graphic designer with a focus on typography, book design and publishing. In addition to various self-initiated and commissioned projects, he is also co-managing the Bookbinding Workshop at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie.