The artist, who was born in Brussels in 1958, has undertaken an extensive examination of the museum and the surrounding urban fabric, creating numerous new pieces that will take up the entire ground-floor gallery. The display includes a series of circular assemblages made out of materials such as paper, fabric, plastics, paint, and acrylic glass; the disc-shaped constructs appear scattered across the gallery floor. The motifs derive from Tuerlinckx’s notes and integrate found objects gleaned in her day-to-day life: the gold-colored aluminum lamination of an ordinary cake board, for example, is transformed in the exhibition into a colorful circle measuring more than thirteen feet in diameter that invites the viewer to contemplate the meanings of gold, money, color, and value.
Tuerlinckx’s art is based on a sustained and time-consuming engagement with simple things; for three decades, she has gathered found items or articles of daily use that crossed her path and methodically collected them in a comprehensive archive. These objects have inspired her to reflect on what it means to be a human being—they are, to use the artist’s term, elements of the real. Her work grows out of the observation, experimental application, and, as she calls it, transcription of these elements: a kind of (re)reading that seeks to strip them of their ostensible banality and comprehend and show them for what they truly are. To this end, Tuerlinckx employs a wide range of sculptural and painterly approaches, including the manufacture of replicas and the translation of objects into different materials. She plays with shifts of scale and alterations of surface textures, which she manipulates with techniques like colorizing or scanning and reprinting.
For her exhibitions, the artist arranges wall-mounted and freestanding objects, drawings and collages, glass display cases and book series, films, videos and slide projections. Her polyphonic and speculative ensembles, which often comprise a large number of individual components, combine an exploration of questions in art with philosophical inquiries into issues such as the essence of time, place, and language and their interrelations.
In recent years, the artist’s work was shown in widely noted solo exhibitions at the Wiels Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (2012) and at the Haus der Kunst, Munich (2013). In 2002, her contribution to the 10th Documenta, Kassel, attracted considerable attention; Pas d’histoire pas d’histoire (Witte de With, Rotterdam, 1994) was an early milestone. Curated by Søren Grammel, the exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Basel is Joëlle Tuerlinckx’s first major show at a museum in the German-speaking world.