Introduced in Riveted are a series of sculptures featuring large-scale ceramic tablets offset by a hanging textile piece, a glass negative, a percussive sculpture and a short film. With these works, Boelens strays from representation and alternately probes at the threshold of abstraction. Inspired by the clay tablet’s function as a primitive bearer, she negotiates the physical and metaphysical appearance of the tablets and the performative aspects of marking or inscribing.
Events Unwitnessed derives from a chain of earlier works focusing on the negative as an intermediate or proto-image. The sculptural work bears a large collodion glass negative, which depicts pieces of volcanic rock in Northern California. One account suggested the eruption took place in 1851 – the year the collodion technique was discovered, while later research proved the outburst took place several centuries earlier. The work captures the puzzling encounter with a landscape of untold age and the impossibility to place oneself truly within it.
The direct representation of a lighthouse lamp in Peering Grasping Longing evokes the idea of a beacon, a means of orientation when other points of reference are lacking. At the same time, the lighthouse signal is a rhythm, a ray of light repeatedly probing the world. This correlation between rhythm and recognition is sustained by several other works in the exhibition, such as Coordination, which is an attempt at mastering an accumulation of gestures, and Riveted, a sculpture that involves sound.
“Riveted is an inhabited space that is organized around an enigmatic sound. A complex rhythm sets its structure, a short and abstract composition stretches out in to a longer duration, like some germinal thought that develops in to a larger and deeper reflection. In a similar vein, a big reddish material hangs on the wall. Gwenneth talks about tracing a ‘mark’ and I understand it as a stepping stone.
Like a solid certainty, it is pinned to it on its upper section, unfolding freely downwards, perhaps yearning for an unexpected fate. It therefore condenses its origins and all its possible outcomes.” (Javier Hontoria)
Gwenneth Boelens employs a subtle pictorial language enabling images and memories to vibrate, conjoin and succeed one another. Although her works stem from representation, it is really the search for our own position in relation to what surrounds us that remains the fundamental focus and motif of her practice.
Gwenneth Boelens (1980) was born in Soest (NL) and currently lives and works in Amsterdam. National and international exhibitions from the past years include Autumn of Modernism I, De Vleeshal, Middelburg (NL), A Dutch Landscape, La Casa Encendida, Madrid (ES), The Sound of Downloading Makes Me Want to Upload, Sprengel Museum, Hannover (DE), Prix de Rome 2011, Smart Project Space, Amsterdam (NL) and In Two Minds, Klemm’s, Berlin (DE).
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