THE END OF AN INVESTIGATION / LET ME BEGIN / TO FULLY UNDERSTAND THE APPEAL OF SCIENTIFIC REALISM / IN WORKING MY WAY THROUGH […]. Quote from the work “Reflections Going Down with the Sun,” 2013.
Taking a look at a text fragment chosen by Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven (AMVK) in one of her works, is an attempt – doomed to failure – to come close to an understanding of the fundamentally unsubsumable nature of her artistic modes of expression. „In working my way through [the investigation]“, precisely this fragment of a passage is what arouses my interest today. In the past, AMVK‘s work has been dissected, examined and categorised from numerous angles, mostly from a bird‘s eye view. The explanations of content (technological-digital impetus, mysticism and female intelligence, Leibnizian refraction of nature to mathematical logic, neuroscientific machine knowledge) and methods (Eisenstein-filmic and medieval dissolution of linearities, excessive demand strategies, narratives of literary cut-ups and fold-ins of Burroughs and Gysins) helped us to gain a more comprehensive understanding of this extraordinary work. It encompasses all media of art and knows how to draw on the wealth of the historical and contemporary world of knowledge. Excessive demand and complexity are not only inherent in this work, but are also part of today‘s world. It is not in vain that AMVK‘s œuvre to date has always been recognized as an early foresight of the subsequent states of the world.
There are few people who have the perceptual neurological ability to see the world seismographically and in multiple perspectives. In the reception of the work of the exceptional Belgian artist, this aspect has not yet been taken into account, although it is central to the (non) understanding of her oeuvre. It means neither being able to divide the world into hierarchies nor finding the distance to detail. And is not limited to just this: The comprehensive and merging absorption of stimuli and pulsating physicalities (cf. „Art is an out of the Body Experience“, 2013) is intensified by the uninhibited desire for the new and the search for any form of explanatory patterns. AMVK‘s œuvre has been the result of my observation for years under the premise that it is neither categorisable nor consumable, nor that it allows a distance to the work and the artist. This may explain why many of her works have an autobiographical context. They were described as prostheses of the self. They are the expression of a process of getting hold of the living world by AMVK transforming it into art. This is accurate.
Therefore and nevertheless, there is an indispensable call to see her works in detail. The general observer will not succeed in tracing the seismographic attraction of Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven‘s world. However, it is possible to resolutely confront the visual and linguistic density of the works, which are capable of triggering a vertigo, and to draw them into one‘s own physical proximity.
Texts, forms, fragments and colours form intoxicating excerpts from ideas, illustrations and analyses.
The first major group of works in the current exhibition was created in 2013 on the occasion of a study visit to Florida. In the drawings, interiors dominate as places of retreat, snapshots from airports, text passages from Jean Baudrillard‘s „The System of Objects“ (1968) and from Henri Lefebvre‘s final work „Rhythmanalysis“ (1992), the latter a writing that breaks down the space-time relationship to the beat of everyday life through biological, psychological and sociological rhythm. Particularly the biological impulse seems to me to be very well presented, because in the fusion of work, body, space and acoustic stimulus in AMVK, this comes into action in diverse ways. According to the artist, the parallel lines in the drawings are directly connected to the textiles of the Miccosukee Indians of Florida. The pattern is the negative form of the drawing process of its shaping. To wear them or to look at them is considered to give strength and power. AMVK combines this belief with her observation that empty spaces marked by lines are actions from past processes and are particularly strong. She also calls them „power patterns“.
The exhibition shows two works from the Botox series that were digitally retouched portraits of unknown people from glossy magazines using the traditional technique of pastel and oil pastel painting with its familiar powdery surface. Timelessness, uncanny reverie, cyberworld figures and desexualisation of the surface are brought to life here – both nostalgically and disconcertingly at the same time. For the latest group of works, AMVK has made use of the materials so typical of her: plexiglass, digital print and acrylic. Anne-Mie was inspired by a love letter by Ludwig Wittgenstein, where she found the expression Unweit von Dir (2019) to create one of her most recent works. What is striking in this work, owing to pictorial abstraction and digital concretion is the use of four intense shades of red. The reference to an interior of Adolph Loos and Wittgenstein‘s letter may suffice to think here of a deeply sonorous, masculine warmth. If we go back to Lefebvre, this work shows itself as a recording of various impulses, which are mutually dependent in a linear and planar way. In „The Critique of the Thing“ (quoted from AMVK several times in the works to be seen in the exhibition), Lefebvre does not call for the existing to be assumed, but for a concept to begin. The duality of concept and abstraction – the latter ultimately arising from the figure – underlies AMVK‘s understanding of art in general, in the sense, I think, of “Unweit“. A description of proximity, which closes into unity through the circulatory „I-You“ relation of „you“ and „near“/“not far“, spoken from a subjective perspective, the artist‘s „I“.
Text: Susanne Neubauer