Darius Himes presents the curatorial impetus behind the exhibition Where There’s Smoke and will moderate a conversation with two of the artists, Ruth van Beek and Michael Lundgren. The event, co-sponsored by AirBnB and Fraenkel Gallery, will be 8 July 2014, 7:00pm at the California College of the Arts campus.
Where There’s Smoke gathers together four artists (including Dutch artists Ruth van Beek and Viviane Sassen) who subvert the viewer’s sense of how a photograph can and should operate, both conceptually and perceptually. This is no mere photographic deconstruction, however; a metaphorical intent ricochets through the works. By turns subtle and overt, the imagery both guides and confronts the viewer. The tools employed run the gamut of photographic expression—from handmade-collage to the art of sequencing, from the use of reflection and shadow, to chance, suggestion, craft, and, at its most fundamental, a sophisticated intensity of looking.
The exhibition Where There’s Smoke will be on view at Fraenkel Gallery from July 10 until August 23, 2014. An opening reception will be held on July 10, 5.30-7.30pm.
Ruth Van Beek (b. 1977) uses the established visual codes of photography—a shadow, pedestal, dark backdrop, or gesture—to guide viewers into a belief in the incredible rarity or importance of the shown object, even when that object is unidentifiable. From a growing archive of found photographic material, Van Beek arranges images in constantly changing ways. The primary source for her odd and playful collages are specialist books and magazines of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Titles on subjects including the proper tending of bonsai trees, the care of cacti, and the art of Japanese flower arranging—often found at thrift stores across Europe and the United States—provide rich material for her unique pieces. From these odd combinations and decontextualized images Van Beek makes her work. By cutting and folding, adding shapes of watercolor-painted paper and forging visual connections between found pictures, the artist makes form, scale and colors reverberate, often to unsettling or comical effect. These overt interventions are never hidden; indeed they are central to the work. The pieces presented are from her latest book, The Arrangement (2013). Van Beek lives and works in Koog aan de Zaan, in the Netherlands.