18 Mar – 16 Apr 2000

Empty, High, Sweet and Loud

Ellen Ane Eggen, Aarich Jespers, Ole Jorgen Ness, Judith Witteman

For an entire month, W139 is a bleak plateau where, rather than protecting each other, the works battle it out in a frenzy to survive.

Previous 1 /  Next

EMPTY, HIGH, SWEET & LOUD is an encounter between four artists: two from the Low Countries and two from Norway. Approaching their work from totally different angles, the artists share one thing in common - their artistic practice - united by intention, energy, clear-cut content or choice of materials.

Rather than continually searching for oneness or a common denominator, in EMPTY, HIGH, SWEET & LOUD we consciously opted for a struggle: a confrontation. The all-embracing title is a summing up, where the work of each participant is captured in a short, sharp four-letter word. Aarich Jespers / Joeri Meij and DJ Nath6lie will perform at the opening.

In the front space: ELLEN ANE EGGEN "DET SAMMENFALLENDE LANDSKAP". Van Eggen presents photos portraying the eternally EMPTY North Norwegian landscape. The images confront us with fierce, frightening landscapes; surface calm shields barren desolation. A point pressed home by the use of black and white photography and Cinemascope format. Eggen's mountains and lakes seem to fuse with the snow-laden sky in a landscape oblivious to we humans. This is reflected in the title (which roughly translates as 'The Converging Landscape'). That such a young artist is concerned with silence and liberating beauty may be surprising, but the disquiet and ghastly void and the cropping and abstraction of the photos is in shrill contrast to standardly appealing, traditional landscape photography. Accompanied by a sound piece composed by Helge Sten the four large works become a space-filling installation.

That said, JUDITH WITTEMAN's floor piece hinders / reinforces our perception of the photographs. Witteman earlier excelled in colourful, manipulated photos and installations welding unusual SWEET materials liked acid drops, marshmallows, liquorice and boiled sweets into bizarre colurfield mounds and amoebic balls. The results were left to the ravages of time. W139 asked Witteman to create a short-lived carpet for the front space. The contrast with van Eggen's photos couldn't be greater. The rug, fabricated gradually over a fortnight, is an exotic amalgam of sawdust, chocolate confetti, honey, caviar and other perishables. During the making, a process which absorbed her body and soul, Witteman focused, in her own words, on "my act of treachery".

In the rear space: OLE JØRGEN NESS : "CRYPTOMNESIA" NESSTUDIO - Att. NEXI Ness also spent two weeks creating a site-specific floorwork, aided by all the alter egos of his Ness Studio. HIGH above the piece hangs a parachute and the source of the mirror image on the floor. 'FURTHER EXCERPTS FROM THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES' is a crazy heap of toys, grass mats, sheeting, ink drawings, painted areas and a selection of lightbulbs and dried-up paintbrushes. Another disquieting landscape, this time of human nature. Ness' starting point was 'glossolalia' or speaking in tongues. The installation unites extracts drawn from the artist's own experiences of Multiple Personality Disorder. The 9 personas, all bearing names that are anagrams of Ole Jørgen's own name, helped create the piece. Ness also showcases one of his identities, Jøgen Jøgner Nexi, in an enormous charcoal drawing entitled 'Cryptomnesia', a 19th century term literally meaning 'hidden memory'. In spite of - or precisely because of - the multi-layered complexity of his existence, Ness is an enthralling artist capable of creating powerful images.

AARICH JESPERS : 'CONCERTO POUR PICK-UP' (IN COLLABORATION WITH JOERI MEIJ) and 'MORT, verder werk' Jespers is an artist and musician. As a drummer/artist, he works with various Antwerp-based groups like Kiss my Jazz and Zita Swoon. Joeri Meij could be described as a multi-media adventurer.

In the installation 'Concerto pour pick-up', 16 home-made singles are manipulated by as many record players, driven by stepping motors linked to a computer via an interface. A programme designed by the duo determines the number of steps and the speed of each motor. The variations produce a score. By changing the speed of the record or jolting the record as it plays a melody or rhythm can be programmed. The work is both digital and analogue in the sense that control and programming are fully digital while execution is analogue. A feature the design of the installation hammers home - a formal hi-tech casing for the record players and the computer in contrast to a determinedly classical context - a parquet floor and record players on mounts. Following the rules of a symphony orchestra (basses, soloists, conductor, rhythm etc) the record players are set up in a half circle.

The installation 'Mort, verder werk' is the follow-up to a project in which Jespers realised an overview of his visual work in relation to 'exhibiting'. It involves the preservation of his entire plastic works to date, thirty pieces made at college, black cases made to the exact size of their contents and more recent objects packaged in plastic bubble packaging. Jespers considers these completed works to be dead - he doesn't want to unpack and show them for the time being. Nevertheless, the energy of the work remains tangible; the sizes of the cases feed our curiosity. The installation thus becomes a mobile, personal encyclopaedia. What's more, the collection is stored in the back of a Daihatsu pick-up truck. The van is parked under a huge deciduous tree to the LOUD chirping of birds (a single ingenious tape loop). 'Concerto pour pick-up' is produced and funded in collaboration with the sound festival in May 2000 in De Vooruit in Gent and the Ministry of the Flemish Community, for which we express our gratitude.

With thanks to
De Vooruit in Gent en het Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap