The Ravestijn Gallery is delighted to announce The Constructed Image, a group exhibition that brings together nineteen (inter)national and experimental artists who showcase photography’s ability to not only reproduce but also be a source for something new.
From Hannah Höch’s violent photomontages to Martha Rosler’s political juxtapositions, collage and its successors have constructed meaning through intervention; disassembling, reassembling, cutting, layering, distorting, manipulating and more. Instead of idealising coherence or the conventions of a single medium, artists working in this vein see different materials, forms, technologies and media as fertile ground to create from. When the world is seen in this way — as a reservoir without restrictions — the boundaries of one medium are rendered obsolete and previously inaccessible experiences are made possible.
Historically, these practices have often been wrapped up in dissent, but our current era of extreme accessibility to inexhaustible media has encouraged artists to meld and manipulate to increasingly far-reaching ends. And with a rapidly expanding quiver of both physical and digital tools at their disposal, anything can be imagined. Today is a time when the ability to alter with ease coincides with the availability of material ripe for inquiry. A selection of artists at the forefront of these developments are exhibited here, continuing a practice of construction, but in their own, distinctly contemporary way.
Whilst all the artists in The Constructed Image share the same historical precedent, their work is strikingly varied. Some, such as Ruth van Beek’s, are palpable, physical; the delicate cuts and folds of her characteristic approach can be seen as they animate found images previously forgotten into something new and wondrous. A similar, tangible presence is felt clearly in Inez & Vinoodh’s recent collages, in which photographs of models and fashion accessories have been collected, cut out and then pieced together with brightly coloured tape. The final compositions are disjointed yet somehow coherent, a balance achieved by hands that have been manipulating images for over thirty years. Eva Stenram and KYoung are two more artists in The Constructed Image that meticulously, the first digital and second analog, slice into the world of images to interrogate our own or reimagine another. For these artists, however, the evidence of their process is not something to be concealed, and it is in seeing the seams that we find curiosity.
More have traded scissors for software, wielding tools that epitomise the possibilities of today. Nico Krijno is one such example, whose approach starts with the landscape around his rural farmhouse in South Africa. There he collects often discarded objects that he alters, sculpts and arranges before photographing them as fantastical still lifes. Krijno then digitally reworks these images — erasing, cloning and multiplying — until the boundaries between physical and virtual dissolve into kaleidoscopic dimensions. Each final photograph is a manifestation of Krijno’s free imagination, made possible through the algorithmic hands of technology. Koen Hauser and Simon Lehner too have developed practices that embrace the capabilities of computers as defining traits of their work, offering a counterpoint to those artists in The Constructed Image who favour paper over pixels.
These diverse approaches are brought together in an exhibition that is itself constructed. Specially for The Constructed Image, temporary walls will be installed in the gallery, dividing the existing area and creating new spaces that echo the exhibition’s underpinning theme. It will also bring the artists into fresh proximity, in turn kindling new associations and comparisons between them.
As individuals, each artist offers their own, markedly different perspective on what it means to construct an image. As a whole, the exhibition bears witness to the fact that today photography is more than it has ever been. It is no longer only a flat end bound by tradition but a beginning to new ways of imagining.
Participating artists: Ruth van Beek, Jasper de Beijer, Katrien de Blauwer, Blommers & Schumm, Cortis & Sonderegger, Koen Hauser, Jaime Hayon, Inez & Vinoodh, Nico Krijno, Michel Lamoller, Simon Lehner, Jean-Francois Lepage, Matt Lipps, Sohei Nishino, Martina Sauter, Scheltens & Abbenes, Eva Stenram, Patrick Waterhouse and K. Young.