Satijn Panyigay makes photographic work that invites its viewer to slow down. She captures the silence of empty spaces and, staging it as a photograph, aims to unveil the layer underneath. Working with uninhabited grounds, Panyigay searches for presence in a seeming emptiness.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam) has recently closed its doors for a long-term, large-scale renovation. Satijn Panyigay was allowed to take her time to capture the uncovered museum’s essence at a very special moment – a twilight zone between the museum’s closure and the start of the rebuilding, a state that no one sees. The museum walls, stripped of all the icons, got caught on camera as an object, losing their dominant role of a background that accommodates art.
Twilight Zone, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is part of a larger project in which Satijn Panyigay is capturing the character of the empty exhibition spaces of leading Dutch museums that display contemporary art by photographing between the shows. She also photographed the Kröller-Müller Museum in those short moments when a museum nearly loses its function, with no art on display and no visitors allowed.
Boijmans Van Beuningen’s case stands out as the institution got shut down for renewal for years and Panyigay was allowed to take her time to capture the uncovered museum’s essence. The rooms of Boijmans Van Beuningen have a recognizable architecture. Its spaces where icons of art can normally be seen are now empty, pending. The walls, floors, ceilings, colors, the incidence of light and traces of the previous exhibitions fill in the blanks of the museum’s identity. The empty rooms get to become the artwork.
There’s another side to this series. “When art is not there, what do you then see? When you’re not distracted by the art? You only see the traces of what was there before, and your imagination fills in the rest - the stories, the happenings, and thus the photos invite you to go inward.”
In Satijn Panyigay’s oeuvre, there is always a harmonious balance between the light and the dark, cheerful and gloomy, resilience and vulnerability. Her work, in absence of any direct human narratives, is surprisingly humane – she addresses the feelings of its observer.
Satijn Panyigay (1988) lives and works in Utrecht. She has participated in exhibitions at, amongst others, Fotomuseum Den Haag, Museum Tot Zover (Amsterdam), Villa Mondriaan (Winterswijk), and art fairs such as Art Rotterdam, Unseen Photo Fair, PAN Amsterdam and Amsterdam Art Fair.