Marleen Sleeuwits – Laying Bare
She twists perceivable reality, plays with scale and creates optical illusions. Marleen Sleeuwits (b. 1980, Enschede, NL) has a special eye for the alienating quality of seemingly nondescript spaces. Whereas she initially took photographs of such spaces, she gradually began to put her own stamp on them. “I started to change the places I picked out. First by making small interventions, but they became more and more extreme.” For example, she stapled paper towels onto walls, covering them entirely, or bored 3000 holes in a modular ceiling in order to completely transform the space. Since her emergence from behind the camera, she alternatingly assumes the role of photographer, sculptor, architect or painter.
Until recently, she added layers to a space or peeled them off in order to discover what was behind a wall or ceiling. Now, Sleeuwits is increasingly reusing the inherent characteristics of a place – a new step, which sounds minimalistic but by no means implies a simplification of the image. More than ever, her work exhibits a complex kind of Droste effect: elements are photographed and put back into a space in order to be subsequently photographed again. This emphasis on the recognizable is precisely what evokes a sense of alienation: when the pattern of the floor repeats itself on the wall, and real florescent lights as well as their life-sized images are on the ceiling, it does something crazy to your perception.
”My photos aren’t a window onto a world that you step into as a viewer. It’s sooner the other way around: the other world comes to you and takes over without being asked.” As such, Sleeuwits is exploring the boundaries between two- and three-dimensionality. Whereas a spatial object gains a certain flatness, the flat surface of the photograph assumes greater form. “For me, it’s all about translating space into photography. I open up spaces, lay them bare, filet them even. By continually picking out one element, which I then investigate, I plumb their depths bit by bit.” That investigative aspect also takes hold of the viewer. By scanning the artist’s work, looking for clues, you think you understand it – only to once again become completely lost in dizzying, repetitive inversions.