With a background in film, Wouter Venema is interested in the meaning of recording and caputuring people, objects, moments and time. His practice is neither an attempt to show a sequence of autonomous images, nor to produce a lineair narrative. Also, he does not aim to depict a one-dimensional, individual perception regarding time and place in order to unequivocally depict it afterwards. Rather, Venema means to simultaneously bring together different perspectives and by doing so, he creates a sense which transcends the singularity. Before, he for instance sought for ways to record an object from different perspectives in one single moment, aiming to transcend both time and place. Hereby, the artist (literally) attempts to take in several viewpoints at the same time and thus resist a single-sided closed-narrative monolithic view.
Skin is an important starting point for his current exhibition at P/////AKT. Venema considers skin, clothing or membrane to be an intermediary between two worlds or perspectives. They carry or indicate identity; both protection and decoration: a convertible outer layer able to change shape, role, thus meaning. Furthermore, Venema relates skin to architectural façades, operating as a border between inside and outside, besides referring to iguanas and snakes whom shed their skin regularly, and therefore are able to show different versions of themselves throughout their lifetime. The artist relates this capacity to the possibility of changing role and identity. However, scars form the indelible traces of history: something indicating both absence and presence concurrently.
Inside the space, Venema (in collaboration with Studio Anne Dessing) came up with a division; thereby creating an inner and outer part, a front and a back allowing the displayed works to be viewed from two (equal) sides. This strict partitioning in one way refers to the way straight lines are used on maps to create borders and make separations. On the other hand it shows how an artificial division causes conceptual, psychological and physically directly sensible consequences. Divisions also play a part in the systems that create identity-related narratives. This concerns stories chosen and elaborated upon, but also descriptions that cause a specific distinction; creating a form of inclusion and exclusion. As a counterbalance, Venema uses the image of the cuckoo, which, besides the notion of taking possession of a home, also represents unlimited migration and exchange – birds simply do not care for manmade borders or identity politics and swarm across the globe without any restraint. In Façade, Wouter Venema connects all these elements – and more – reflecting on man-made borders, structures, perception and projection.
Text by Vincent van Velsen