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Introduction speech by Cor Blok
Ausloos and Ausloos. Paul (82) and Anne (55). Each on a wall of their own. Not without reason, as we will see later on.
One immediately notices the contrasts between one Ausloos and the other. Paul's digital prints –digitally edited photographs– present a quiet, silent scene. A few domestic objects are assembled into one compact, simple form – almost square. Compact, yet so transparent that front and back appear interchangeable; with soft tones; and everything appears to be drawn into the frame, into the image, almost into the wall.
Paul's work is quiet – which doesn't mean I am saying that Anne's work is loud. When Anne's objects are placed in real space and observed from up close, they have dramatic features. Paul's still-lifes do not seem to have any visible history, while Anne's objects do. Something happened to them. The materials are easily recognized – paper of the kind that everybody uses and nobody talks about. (Nonetheless, it's entitled to some respect. Rumor has it that Govan Mbeki, the South-African president's father, while imprisoned during the Apartheid regime, wrote his dissertation on it.)
Rolls of toilet paper. You know what happens when such a roll is dropped into the bowl by accident. These rolls are immersed in a basin filled with water and a suspension of clay. The form a roll takes depends on the way Anne, or her tool, takes it out and the way she puts it out to dry. But mostly the shape is defined by the behavior of the limp paper. Two natural forces influence the process: gravity drags everything down, but meanwhile the clay, absorbed by the paper, is drying. This hardening fights the gravitation. 'Paper works,' is what Anne calls these objects, which can be interpreted in two different ways: 'these are works made of paper', but also 'paper does the work'.
On the wall space between the objects you may notice yellow spots and surface structures caused by moisture. The objects have been selected and placed in such a way that they 'rhyme' with the accidental structures. The walls were purposefully assigned to Anne and Paul – Paul's work on the dry wall, Anne's work on the moist wall, on the wall made by man and changed by nature. The forces of nature will encroach upon the works of man in the middle of the city just as well as out in the countryside.
Anne must have studied the wall intensively. This is the fifth time she shows her work in 'De Witte Voet' gallery. Her previous exhibition, 'Earth/Paper/Water,' in 2006, left traces on the gallery floor. On that occasion Anne showed different clays from New Mexico and how they all behave differently when wet or dry. Changes of temperature between day and night cause rocks to erode and the dust is carried by wind and water to new locations. It may take millions of years, but in the end a whole mountain range will be flattened. Rivers will move to new streambeds. Jointly with volcanic activity, these slow processes are continually changing the face of the Earth – exactly as they change the surface of Mars, witness the recent photographs transmitted by the 'Opportunity' exploring vehicle.
In this gallery it is simple rolls of toilet paper that are exposed to nature's forces as embodied in water and clay, the 'universal ingredients' that make life on Earth possible.
The differences between uncle Paul's work and niece Anne's work are obvious. So why look for family likeness? If one insists, words like 'restraint,' 'reticence' come to mind. Anne allows paper, water and clay to do the work, reserving for herself minimal intervention only. The image 'creates itself.' Paul starts with an image that 'creates itself': photography. He intervenes by softening and reducing everything that's hard, sharp, or tangible in the photograph. The image becomes almost its own shadow. In his still-lifes he applies an 'image softener.'
There is also a family likeness in the sense that neither Paul nor Anne exploits art for self-advertisement. Their work does not cry 'Watch out, here come the Auslooses!' In stead, it asserts itself quietly and naturally as what it is.
Cor Blok, 28 03 09
Photography: Eric Tschernow
Exhibition: Nein Tanz Ja
27 09 - 15 11 2008
Anne Ausloos, Bettie van Haaster, Gordon Matta-Clark,
Nanda Runge, Ben Sleeuwenhoek, Marenne Welten
Curator: Pieter Slagboom
Paper Works - Anne Ausloos
Paul Ausloos and Anne Ausloos
Photography of Paul Ausloos and related work of Anne Ausloos
20 12 08 - 11 01 09
Huize St. Bonaventura
T +32 9 2231995
M +32 479 469611
Open: Saturdays 3-7 pm and Sundays 11 am - 7 pm