Poacher’s Atlas, 2017 - now
Series of paper pulp works
The works in the series Poacher’s Atlas are made from paper pulp. The ‘drawings’ are made with the paper itself instead of applying the drawing to it. In some of the works, drawings are engraved in the pulp, referring to different skin surfaces, both of animals and humans. These engravings create a relief that is reminiscent of skinned skin or dried earth. On the one hand, the works refer to compost and fungi, a reference to regeneration, a network, a common ground. On the other hand, there are references to maps of air pollution, polluted rivers, an albatross’ stomach full of plastic, disease.
For the works Poacher’s Atlas XXII-XXV (Rotterdam), I collected paper on the streets in different neighbourhoods of Rotterdam. Instead of using the atlas as a material to tell something general about a place, I now used materials that are directly connected to a place. By using these site-specific materials, an abstract portrait of a part of the city emerges.
Brandmuren, 2019 - now
Series of ceramic tile tableaus
The tile tableau Brandmuren III (Presikhaaf) deals with the notion of Dutch brutalist architecture, buildings that were constructed after 1945. This style was dictated by an industrialist perspective that was full of hope. I combined several images in this tableau: the typical brutalist façade, the arches of the shopping centre in Presikhaaf (a post-war neighbourhood in North East Arnhem), 1950s floral designs, wilted houseplants, and broken bones. A brandmuur or fire wall is a tile wall in or near a fireplace that portrays the immediate surroundings, connecting inside and outside in a similar way a chimney does.
A Voice from the Fireplace, 2019
The exhibition A Voice from the Fireplace is about the connection between inside and outside, and specifically about the chimney. The theme of coming together and finding new ways of living together is at the core of this project. The chimney is traditionally the heart of the house. The walls were built around the chimney. However, it is also the only unguarded entrance to the house. That is why mythical figures often enter the house through the chimney. The series is about invisibility, breath, infection, viruses, and smoke. The invisible that penetrates and enriches the skin. The subcutaneous.
The diptych Brandmuren is based on tiles of fire walls. The tiles in the series refer to smoke and fire. Brandmuren II, for example, shows a blueprint of a chimney, hands black of soot, English twisted chimneys, and smoke. Also, there are references to various forms of (invisible) infection/possession and poisoning, for instance by bacteria, demons, and oleander plants. The oleander, also called ‘demon herb’, is a recurring motif. It is an elegant, but extremely toxic plant. The leaves, if they were to be eaten, would cause cardiac arrest; they contain glycosides that the heart cannot handle. I processed this kind of specific information visually and textually in the tiles.
The two sculptures, both with the title Hexapod, Chimney Pot, show typical Dutch chimney pots: a pot that protects the chimney entrance against, among other things, birds, leaves, and rain. The various wooden blocks on which the pots stand are based on chimneys that can be found in Noord-Holland (a province in the Netherlands), for instance in farmhouses. The black bars or legs, made of black MDF, depict the beams of the roof, but also refers to the legs of an insect or bacterium. The chimney protects a blue glass cast of an anatomical model of a heart, Transplant Exposed.
The wall sculpture Burning Oleander consists of a paper oleander branch and a piece of orange mouth-blown glass that refers to a flame. The poisonous smoke from the plant infects the heart.
Hyaline Hide, 2018
Series of glass reliefs and stainted glass
Hyaline Hide is a series around the material of glass. ‘Hyaline’, from the Greek húalos, means glassy, crystalline, or amorphous. ‘Hide’ refers to (animal) skin or shelter. I made several glass reliefs placed in front of drawings, like a second skin. When a spectator walks around the works, the relief creates subtle distortions in the drawings. Literally taking different perspectives formed the basis of the project. That the two different materials came together was very important. I further elaborated on this with the idea that infection − an organism that enters or coincides with another organism (thus connecting inside and outside) – leads to complexity and enrichment. The idea of infection began to recur in the work and eventually became the central topic of the series
The work The Apostle Bartholomew is about St. Bartholomew, an apostle who is said to have been skinned at the end of his life. He is often depicted with his coat as skin, a knife, and a book. I think it is an interesting idea that you can take off your skin or identity like a coat. Yet, we are always bound by our history even if we ignore, destroy, or pulp the past. I combined it with close-ups of skin or parched earth and glass knives.
The concept of coming together and living together is expressed in the work Korstmos (We Are All Lichens Now). A lichen is a symbiotic organism. The mossy, composite being survives on stones, trees, and even on human skin. On top of the drawing of the lichen, I placed a glass relief of a mask (a second skin), as if the moss becomes a thought that embodies the face.
[...] I, do, feel, there’s something going on behind the façade. Can’t you hear it? Is it completely silent within you? (Trying to estimate the chances of a ‘yes’ here, and the amount of surprise my pupils would reveal.) In my left hamstring there’s a sound that has been humming for some time now. Heartbeat is a word that suggests noise while it is quiet on that front, to be honest. The heart is a stranger in the corner of the room, taking sips from his drink. Sips like the systole and diastole, with tiny heart attacks to bridge them. It could be so easy: just rip it out, the heart. There you have it, the something beneath the surface, brought up from the deeps. But hell no, see, the heart is just another impenetrable façade, a stone. Its arterial patterns reveal nothing. [...]
Excerpt from Stretches, a text contribution by Miriam Rasch to the exhibition Hyaline Hide. Download the full text here.
Double Landscape, 2018
Series of large drawings and engraved paper pulp
For my solo exhibition Façade at P/////AKT in Amsterdam, I realised two series that both explore a different aspect of the idea of skin. The series Double Landscape is about the paper skin: the atlas and the map. This is brought into relation with a story of an iguana that loses its skin at several moments in its life and thus can show different versions of itself. I relate the skin in the series Façade to architectural elements, especially the material of glass. Here the skin is part of two sides – inside and outside –, which makes it seem to disappear. The two series were presented on a floating structure. When you walk past them as a spectator, the works move, almost imperceptibly. Like a literal façade, the construction divides the space into two. On one side you could see Double Landscape, on the other side Façade. In this way, the front and back of the works could both be seen, which challenges their traditional hierarchy, and references the skin as a membrane and mediator between two worlds.
Maria Barnas was invited by P/////AKT to write a text in response to the exhibition Façade. Read it here. See also the article in Metropolis M written by Lotte van Geijn.
The Place Between My Pencil and the Paper is a series of large drawings of old navigation techniques such as the ‘stick chart’. Stick charts were made by the inhabitants of the Marshall Islands. The diagrams represent, among other things, wave patterns and islands. The navigation techniques are drawn on coloured sheets of paper cut into the white paper. By doing so the colour can be seen at the front but also at the back of the work. The forms are based on maps I found in an old Dutch school atlas with the provocative title Ons Eigen Land [Our Own Country]. The back of these works is equally important as the front. The coloured planes form an abstracted image that emphasises the topic of the work: the medium of the map and the navigation techniques form a thin membrane over the landscape that provides as much insight as it takes away. The title refers to the blind spot that occurs when the tip of the pencil touches the paper and that particular spot on the paper is no longer visible to the draftsman. Just as the drawings of the navigation tools obscure the maps and create blind spots.
Series of drawings behind drawings on glass and leadlight objects
In the series Façade, I used the material of glass in several ways. I made drawings directly on the glass of a frame and combined it with pastel drawings of different forms of parasites. Additionally, I made a series of leadlight objects titled Scales. The three works hang separately by thin wires in the exhibition space. They are abstract works that refer to the skin of a reptile, a web, or a landscape seen from above. The title refers to the scales of a reptile skin, but also to the scale of a map.
Fourth Wall, 2017
Series of works on glass and photography
In the Fourth Wall series I combined works on glass with photography. The series has the fragility of the house as its main theme. This is reflected in the decision to work directly on the glass and in the colourful abstract patterns that are based on Berber rugs. The rugs form a symbolic representation for the house without walls. The title of the series refers to the fourth wall, a term borrowed from the theatre: the invisible wall, or the glass wall, which is located between the audience and the stage.
House of the Spider, House of the Snail was created by making pulp from garments from my closest family members. I processed the clothes with a paper grinder and created different colours of pulp. I used this pulp to make a drawing. Thus, the drawing is not on the paper, but the paper itself is the drawing. This technique is loosely based on how Berbers make their rugs. Clothes from (deceased) family members get a second life in knotted carpets. I have placed this handmade piece of paper behind a glass negative of a weblike pattern. A nostalgic object (the paper) and an object that refers to the future (the glass negative that still has to be printed) come together.
Mouth of the Sky, 2015 - 2016
Mouth of the Sky is an installation where the table takes on a central position. For someone who draws a lot, a table is an extension of the body. It is a place that is mainly viewed from a bird’s-eye view, an archaeological site where you can map out fragmented thoughts that drift to the surface. A table has multiple perspectives: if you work on it, it is a flat surface, if you take more distance than the object becomes spatial. This simultaneity of different perspectives formed the starting point for every work. Recurring topics are the act of drawing, cartography, reproducibility, and the multifaceted and changeable nature of identity.
The works in the installation are presented on a big floor drawing made in collaboration with architect Anne Dessing. The drawing is based on lines that were created by refolding a map. You could consider them as lines of a network that connect the works, or even as a map in itself. In this installation, I approach the object of the map as a membrane: a map stands in between the reader and the landscape. We can oversee the landscape, but not experience it. The maps in this installation are no longer serving their intended purpose: the scaling and the representation of a place.
The starting point for many works in the series was a map that was folded in a particular way. In 2007, I folded the map for the first time in this way. By folding the map, I wanted to connect places that in the physical world would never come together. The two-dimensional map that usually represents a three-dimensional space had now become three-dimensional itself.
Another version of this work titled One to One was shown at the Van Gogh Museum. With One to One, I wanted to map the drawing process. It was a large mural of 3 by 4 meters, in which I drew a schematic floorplan, based on the refolded map. I drew a pattern referring to the elevation lines on topographic maps, over a period of two weeks. I made a rule for myself: when the two weeks were finished, I had to stop working. In this way, I wanted to make a map that does not represent a place but rather the time spent at a place. Time determined the composition of the work.
Prism (Pseudonyms) is a series of photo transfers of the same image. Each time I show the work I repeat the transfer. As a result the image is transformed, disappearing slowly, because with this technique, imperfections in the surface leave holes in the image.
A cyanotype print can fade, but it has the unique property of regaining its original colour if left in the dark for a time. Cyanotype is a photographic process, often used to reproduce drawings without the use of a camera, which after developing produces a cyan/-blue image; hence its other name, a blueprint.
The folded map Untitled (Map) gave me the idea of making a camera with multiple lenses. I quickly arrived at the simplest of all cameras, the pinhole camera. I made one with ten apertures. This image is the first good exposure of the window of my studio at the Rijksakademie. The object photographed was duplicated ten times by this camera. Now you can experience one object in ten different places at one time, by looking at this photograph.
For quite a while I didn’t know what I wanted to photograph with the new pinhole camera with ten apertures. Finally I bought a stuffed, mounted cobra and photographed it. A living snake sheds its skin at regular intervals, and thus can see itself from a different perspective. See also the documentation.
Tussenruimte 5, 2014
Tussenruimte 5 is a space-filling temporary mural in the form of a leporello (or filmstrip) with 37 pages. The starting point for this installation was the question whether it is possible to represent 'in-between space'. The collection of images, made over a period of two years, was in continuous development and took on new forms each time: text, performance, photography and drawing. Eventually everything came together in the mural. The mural was only on view during the RijksakademieOPEN 2014, after which I painted the walls back to their original state. This can be compared to a film screening: as soon as the projector turns off the screen becomes white again.
Hole is a hand-drawn animation showing a number of underground landscapes. The animation was made by drawing on semi-transparent paper. I placed these sheets of paper on an LCD screen showing images of natural light (aurora, sunrise, lightning). By photographing everything frame by frame, the two layers - the drawing and the light from the screen - come together. The title refers to the pinhole camera and underground landscapes.
Watch it here.
Light in all its forms plays a remarkable role in this film; it seems to influence the course of events.
With a special feeling for time and space, Lighthouse shows a magical, almost hushed world. We follow the protagonist closely in a labyrinth of corridors, stairs and rooms. Here he comes across an old man who is sitting in a chair gazing quietly into the distance. Something seems to be getting in the way of the course of events.
Watch it here.