THE BLUE CARPET

2022

On the Grootstal Estate on the outskirts of Nijmegen, I’m working a piece of land the size of my studio, with exactly the same dimensions. As part of my research into natural, colour-fast dyeing methods, I’m sowing marigolds and woad: flowers that appear yellow to human eyes but are perceived as ultraviolet blue by insects. By the end of the summer, the flowers and thus the dyes will be ready to harvest. Through the dyeing process, the yellow woad produces a bright blue colour. As an artist, I’m interested in the shift of perspective through perception. With the field as my temporary studio, I investigate this shift by working the soil and processing plants to create dyes. The Blue Carpet is being developed in the run-up to a residency at De Fabriek, an artists’ initiative in Eindhoven.
Thank you: Kien van Hövell tot Westerflier, Landgoed Grootzicht

TEXT PLATES

2021-present

TEXTPLATES is the continuation of a long-term artistic experiment with ceramics and text, as part of my performative work in the public space. Instructions on the plates, in the form of short sentences, invite passers-by to walk and perform actions in the location where they find themselves. For the instructions, I draw inspiration from people’s ideas – drawn from conversations, literature, philosophy, scientific research – about feminism, plants, trees and microorganisms. I further developed the text plates, which previously served as viewing tools in the walking work TRACK (2019), during my residency at Sundaymorning@ekwc, from January to March 2021. During this period, I experimented with a variety of clays, carried out tests with CNC milling machines and drills, compiled a range of coloured clays and tried out new glaze recipes.

TRACK

2019

The work TRACK, created for Biennale Gelderland, consists of a series of ceramic objects that together form an installation and, like a walking trail, connect three streets in Arnhem. The objects are made of ceramics of different shapes and sizes and are bright yellow in colour. Some of the objects bear an inscription, giving instructions for a short mental or physical walk. These instructions are inspired by collected ideas (from real-life conversations, literature, philosophy, scientific research) about plants, microorganisms and trees.

With TRACK I also wanted to stretch the idea of sculpture in public urban space, by involving private spaces and people. The ceramic objects are placed on walls and strips in front and behind residential buildings and shop windows. The route came about through contact with residents and shopkeepers, who placed an object behind their window, in the shop window or on the facade. Some residents and shopkeepers designed an object of ceramics themselves, for example the baker who made a breadboard and a resident who designed a house cat. These objects are all included in the walk. Within the context of TRACK, I indirectly raise the question of whether the presence of the artist, in a performative work that moreover has walking as its medium, is necessary or desirable.

I SUPPORT YOU – YOU SUPPORT ME

2018 & 2021

I SUPPORT YOU – YOU SUPPORT ME is a linguistic and performative gesture. It consists of a black and white knitted scarf with text on both sides. The scarf supports the person carrying it, while at the same time speaks to its surroundings. In multiple directions, relations appear between various entities that encounter each other.

For the exhibition SUPPORT SPACE, fifty scarves went on a journey. Sealed in self-made, sewn-shut envelopes, they were delivered by racing bike or by post to destinations in the Netherlands and beyond. Those who order a scarf become first receiver, then giver. Because you can’t reserve the scarf for yourself; the intention is to pass it onto someone you want to show support. The personal delivery of the scarf turns out to be valuable gesture. For many givers, the scarf is what leads them to reach out to the recipient – they usually haven’t seen each other in a while. In this way, the scarf is a way of experiencing togetherness in times of COVID-19.

As an artist I remain at a distance in this process, so as not to stand in the way of the scarf’s intimate handover. My request to the giver was to send me a photo of the handover; to document scarf’s journey. I have received many photos and personal stories from givers and receivers in all manner of unique locations. Reasons why people want to support the person in question and messages from givers, who have seen how much impact the gift has had on the receiver. Deep conversations therefore unfold between the giver and the receiver, as well as between the giver and the artist. For me this signifies a new, profound kind of relationship to those who experience my artworks. Normally, these people come to an exhibition. Now, the artwork comes, quite literally, to their post box, home and life.

OBSERVER

2018-2019

The work OBSERVER took shape while I was fundamentally thinking about our way of perceiving and the difference between a standing and lying perception. OBSERVER consists of circular-shaped canvas rugs with a diameter of about eight meters and some small round cutouts in it that allows people to alternatively experience their surroundings. The work can be experienced in different ways. One can lay down on the rug, looking through one of its holes, and witness a small isolated part of the environment, then turn on their back and watch the vastness of the sky. Or one can walk past the enormous rug with people relaxing on it while taking a walk through the landscape and witness the aesthetic characteristics of its presence in that location. In both cases it is never only the designed material aspect of the work that matters, it is how this materiality interrelates with participants and the environment.

PATHFINDER

2020

PATHFINDER consists of ten silkscreen cards with walking instructions. The texts on the cards direct the walker’s senses in various ways – either by questioning or by guiding in a welcoming manner. The instructions evoke a brief action or movement of thought, which activates the senses and sets body and mind in motion. This leads to walks that offer new opportunities for relationships and connections between the visitor and her environment. The straightforward instructions function as poetic suggestions for alternative scenarios that can be put into practice. They invite the participant to act: to become active, anticipate, entwine, re-situate. By walking slightly differently, self-evidences are put into question and alternative possibilities explored. The walks “de-filter” looking and extend it with other ways of perception.

PATHFINDER is about sensory experiencing variations to obvious points of view and positions – and about the pleasure of discovery. The walking instructions are inspired by a reciprocal relation between text and site. Isolde’s renewed interest in her Indonesian family history made her rethink relations between body and place and the influence of language on perception.

Thanks to: Marlies van Hak (text editing), Jonathan Beaton (translation), Wouter Engelbart (support), Plaatsmaken (screen printing) & Zone2Source (curator)

TRAVELLER

2020

TRAVELLER is a black cube-shaped object with a built-in mechanism that launches crumpled paper balls. The work, sometimes placed in the landscape and sometimes in a gallery, catapults crumpled paper balls that the viewer can catch and unfold. The props contain instructions for a brief action that activates the senses and sets body and mind in motion. Words are literally thrown into the air, just as sentences are spoken. Examples of instructions are: “WALK BACKWARDS UNTIL THE PLACE YOU ARE NOW IS OUT OF SIGHT.”; “MAKE A THROATY SOUND FOR TEN SECONDS. THEN LISTEN TO THE SPACE.”. The simple prompts act as poetic proposals for alternative scenarios that are brought to fruition in the moment, after a press of a red button. They invite the participant to act: activate, anticipate, catch, relocate.

With special thanks: Jos Scholtes

VERSED PATHS

2018

Every day we traverse paths, bridges and roads. We stop for cars, we cross a zebra crossing: we catch up, overtake, read, breathe. The road sets the rhythm. To what extent does our spatial environment influence not only our movement, but also our thinking and feeling? For VERSED PATHS, commissioned by Perdu Amsterdam, we investigated in groups both our mental and embodied experience while walking. For this lecture-performance, I took people out into the public space of Amsterdam, led by textual instructions that we carried out collectively. Everyday life, unscripted coincidences and new possibilities in perhaps overfamiliar situations all became part of the work. VERSED PATHS consisted of two exercises: precise walking and the placing of texts in the environment. During the ‘precise walking’ exercise, we stopped at places where one would not normally be inclined to stop: along the edges of footpaths, against walls, standing exactly one metre apart, at moments in time that deviated from the everyday rhythm of the city. We walked single-file through an unexpected street party, where life suddenly entered the work. When placing the texts, which were written on sticky notes, we worked in groups of four. On each note was a quote. The person designated as the ‘sticker’ would choose a place in the public space to place the specific quote, which in this way entered into dialogue with its surroundings. The last reader would then take over and become the sticker. Agency shifted constantly during this walking exercise between sticker and reader, quote and space.

CRITICAL FRIEND

2020

Researcher and writer Marlies van Hak invited me to work as ‘critical friend’ on an educational program at the Radboud Honours Academy Nijmegen. This interdisciplinary Science meets Art Honourslab was coordinated by culture coordinator & lecturer Martijn Stevens. It consisted of a series of workshops and discussions at cultural venues. As ‘critical friends’ we reflected on embodied learning, educational tracks and entanglement of artistic and theoretical domains. The collaboration with Radboud University, participating students and Marlies van Hak gave new insights in collaborating, conversing and reflecting on educational processes. We proposed several interventions and curated a closing event through a performative exercise and discussion for the Honourslab community.
www.ru.nl/honoursacademy

DRIVE OF WALKING

2016

During THE DRIVE OF WALKING, a master class organised by Hubert van Eyck Academy Maastricht, I gained valuable insights about walking as artistic practice. I met fellow makers who also consider the meaning of walking for their artistic work. We experimented with ideas related to walking, produced a collaborative publication of walking scripts, and investigated the importance of the immediate experience.

BURO RUIMTE RONDOM

2015-2016

Meeting landscapes from an artistic and philosophical perspective through on-site encounters is the main focus of Buro Ruimte Rondom. At a time when digitization becomes increasingly dominant, we feel it is relevant to offer alternative ways of meeting people and matter. We obviously relate to our environment, such as the city in which we live or the forest where we take walks. But how can we build sustainable and equally valuable connections? What we encounter on a small scale at a set moment, will possibly provide an entry to examining and reinventing larger contexts. By exploring local phenomena and personal testimonies, by being present and engaging in dialogue, by collectively experiencing apparently hidden structures, we seek to give voice to the human and non-human that cannot always speak for itself. That is, not in words.

Concept: Marlies van Hak & Isolde Venrooy
and amongst others Anne Vegter, Martin Drenthen, Esther Kokmeijer, Maïté Tjon A Hie, Deep End Film, Architecture Center Nijmegen, Jan Van Eyck Academy Maastricht, Radboud University Nijmegen

CIJFERSHOP

2004-2020

In CIJFERSHOP (‘NUMBER SHOP’), the various unique values of numbers are presented through audio fragments, texts and wooden shapes. Each number has its own character. CIJFERSHOP started in Zwaanshals, a street in Rotterdam, where I converted an exhibition space into a number shop that attracted local residents who would not normally visit an art gallery. The numbers, part of the ‘shop’ system, could be bought as objects. In a publication that came out in 2015, for which Wouter Engelbart wrote the texts, the numbers speak about their experiences. They explain their political engagement, criticise how society uses them and express the wish to be approached in a more personal way. Since then, CIJFERSHOP has been shown at VHDG in Leeuwarden, among other places. In addition to the publication, wooden figures, a script and audio clips have been developed. In the audio work, a real estate agent, an architect and a financial advisor talk about the role of numbers in their lives and work. A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder related to the number 3 also speaks.

DISCOVERY OF THE WELL-KNOWN

2013

The book Discovery of the Well-known guides the reader through several enlargements of my paintings from the serie Typology of an ideal landscape. From a detail to the whole and back. Just as it is required to observe the paintings closer and step away from them in order to experience the work.

Photography 4/5 inch slide film:
Antje Peters
Photography exhibitions:
Jan Adriaans
Text:
Margriet Kemper
Design:
Rob van Hoesel
Publisher:
The Eriskay Connection

The publication is available on The Eriskay Connection

TYPOLOGY OF AN IDEAL LANDSCAPE

2011-2020

TYPOLOGY OF AN IDEAL LANDSCAPE is a series of paintings, each 160 cm wide and 120 cm high. Paper cut-outs from travel brochures are arranged on canvas. These fragments of, for example, palm trees, parasols and skiers, are (partly) painted over with monochrome acrylic paint, thus reconnecting the disparate elements. The layers of paint conceal the original landscape and at the same time create a new one. Working with paint in this way is an artisanal, slow and meticulous process. The landscape created by the overpainting is like falling snow, or like seawater, earth or sky. A common flow of time is created as elements are brought together. In the publication Discovery of the Well-Known (2013), Margriet Kemper writes about the skiers cut out from brochures: “We don’t see individuals anymore, but tiny bodies with which we still share just enough to know that we are one of them.”
A new series of panels in this series is pieced together from fragments of images of rural elements from the former Dutch East Indies, where part of my family history lies. I arranged these typologies, of sugar palms, coffee and tobacco plants, on the canvas before reconnecting them with paint. The paintings and their concealing or revealing representations refer to idyllic facades – from both colonial and present times – behind which devastating social, rural and cultural monocultures are hidden.

NOTHING COMES FROM NOTHING

2013-2017

NOTHING COMES FROM NOTHING is a series of paintings that focus on the embodied experience of works of art. Paper cut-outs on canvases, almost white or almost black, demand a highly observant approach from the viewer. Only by being physically present in front of the canvas and looking attentively can one’s eyes distinguish the subtle differences in colour and pattern. A quick glance does not reveal the full range of tonalities. You have to keep moving and rethinking your approach to the work. Gradations in colour, nuances in form: materiality is clearly important here, as in the previous series TYPOLOGY OF AN IDEAL LANDSCAPE. Recognisable representations disappear, but what remains is the act of collage – the bringing together of paper cuttings into abstracted representations with titles such as TO EVERY THING THERE IS A SEASON; THE CLOSER THINGS GET TO NON-EXISTENCE; THINGS DEVOLVING TOWARD, OR EVOLVING FROM, NOTHINGNESS. There is no clear position from which to view the picture as a whole. In the publication Discovery of the Well-Known (2013), Margriet Kemper writes: “There is no breadth and no height; source and mountain are united by […] the white of the snow, the off-white of the sand and the black of the night.” The different shades of white, for example, make each other visible – they work together. They invite you to seek out nuance and the context of the painting. The work thus alludes to support, a theme that recurs in multiple works of mine, such as I SUPPORT YOU – YOU SUPPORT ME.

ARCHIVE OF ABSENCE

2015-2018

The Archive of Absence tells of the phenomenon of present absence. It imagines the presence of that which is not there at first glance. An important aspect of the Archive of Absence are expeditions – walks through inside and outside spaces. On these expeditions, I discuss the presence of absence, looking at objects, plants and terminology. The presence of a camouflage net hanging over a shed leads to the discussion of stealth technologies that allow vehicles to move through space while being absent on radar. Throughout these (physical and mental) wanderings the emphasis is placed on sensory observations coupled with associations, stories and visual works.

NORTH EXPEDITION

2017

EXPEDITIE NOORD (‘NORTH EXPEDITION’) is a collective walk through a riverside landscape, commissioned by Festival De Oversteek. During this walk, we used viewing tools to elicit interaction between the human body, the environment and fellow walkers. During three walking exercises at different locations near the river Waal in Nijmegen, participants explored my latest viewing tools. A series of text cards with quotes invited the viewer to look at the landscape in a different way and to discuss it with a fellow walker using the words on the card. Portable mirrors of different sizes were attached to clothing and shoes to provide an unexpected, tilted and expanded perspective on the surroundings, one’s own body and other bodies. A large blue sheet, with round holes, encouraged participants to experiment with scale on a micro and macro level. Zooming in on a small part of the environment, lying on the ground looking at the earth, and zooming out to take in the vast space around you when you turn over on your back: this sheet was the first version of the work OBSERVER (2018-2019). For each experiment with a viewing tool, I chose a different place and backdrop in the landscape around the urban island on the river Waal, so that we could trace a route along the river while walking.

CURATOR WALKINGLABS

2015-2021

My artistic approach is fueled through extensive interdisciplinary artistic multidisciplinary projects in which art&design, music and theatre students work together for a week at various locations in The Netherlands. The participants are accompanied by seven artists or designers.

Participating artists: Maarten Bel, Daan Couzijn, Maureen Ghazal, André Pielage, Jozee Brouwer, Joost Conijn, Melanie Corre, Designarbeid, Annegien van Doorn, Stijn van Dorpe, Dirk van Lieshout, Afra Eisma, Domenique Himmelsbach de Vries. Wessel Verrijt, Roland van Dierendonck, Boey Wang, Anaïs López, Jake Caleb, Wapke Feenstra, Maartje Folkeringa, Onsia Goemans, Willem de Haan, Paoletta Holst, Pavel van Houten, TINKEBELL, Michiel Huijben, Misja Immink, Eline Janssen, Esther Kokmeijer, Bastiaan Kwast, Lotte Landman, Charl Landvreugd, Tom Loois, Robert van Middendorp, Jack van Mildert, Wineke van Muiswinkel, PIPS:Lab, Peter Taylor, Tonio de Roover, Wouter Venema, Bart van de Woestijne, Mat Wijn.

METAMORFOSE (2021), PREPPEN (2020), BODYBUILDING (2019), PLANTEN (2018), DROPPING (2017), WALKING (2016), ITHAKA (2015). 

BUREAU BUURTREIZEN

2008

BUREAU BUURTREIZEN is a travel agency where children share stories, design maps and organize tours through their own neighborhood. Commissioned by De Nieuwe Veste, KOP and Stedelijk Museum Breda.

SLEEP-TIME-MONEY

2015

Visitors makes themselves comfortable on a bed. Emanating from the pillow underneath their head is a sound composition. As in Soothing Sounds for Baby (Raymond Scott), one is transported to a sleepy dreamworld. The intention of the installation is to seduce people with the sounds of money, which are used as a mantra or lullaby.

(RE)COVERED

2008-2017

The work (RE)COVERED consists of a number of rows of medals wrapped in soft, black felt. The medals are trophies from completed hikes. However, only the silhouette of each medal is still visible in the work. Specific features such as inscriptions or colours cannot be distinguished, giving the medals a somewhat abstract and iconic character. Each of the medals in (RE)COVERED was once awarded to a person to commemorate an event in their life. In this case, the event was a group hike. The collection of medals visualises a collective (support) system, in which it is not the individual but the shared achievement that is paramount. The awarding of the medal is a means of giving concentrated attention to a specific experience at a given moment in time. By disguising several such mementos and presenting them collectively as an installation, the work alludes to shared time, memory and attention. In the words of Eelco Runia in Presence (2006), a “focus not on the past but on the present, not on history as what is irremediably gone, but on history as ongoing process.” Or to summon the words of James Baldwin in Black English: A Dishonest Argument (1980), “History is not the past, it is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.”