With Razia Barsatie, Monali Meher,
Otobong Nkanga and Mariëlle Videler
Curated by Sara Berton
5 November – 17 December 2022
Lumen Travo Gallery is proud to present the new group show Silent Land, featuring the work of Razia Barsatie, Monali Meher, Otobong Nkanga and Mariëlle Videler.
In a context where human actions seem to speak more loudly and violently than thousands of years of natural evolution, Silent Land aims to set the stage for a conversation in which man and nature can take equal part.
The exhibition consists in a site-specific installation, several sculptural works, a textile series, a photographic series and works on paper. Through a consistent variety of techniques and approaches, the four selected artists offer their hands, voice and sensibility to address very urgent issues such as sustainability, identity, migration and the endless cycle of exploitation of natural resources.
When approaching the exhibition, one might be struck by the subtle aroma that pervades the gallery space. This is given by the use of turmeric, traditional spice in India and Suriname, native lands of artists Monali Meher and Razia Barsatie.
Monali Meher (1969, IND) proposes a continuation of the visual dialogue initiated on the occasion of her recent solo show at Lumen Travo. In the site-specific installation Unknown Landscape (2022), several natural elements such as soil, bark and coal are combined together with the glass works created during the artist’s residency at GlasGent. The result is a colorful and dynamic assemblage which is laid on the gallery floor. Like a natural landscape, this installation is alive, evolving silently but persistently.
The materiality of the soil, the unique textural properties of the landscape emerge in each and one of the works selected for this exhibition: sometimes evocated through the provocative metaphor of land as the ultimate playing field for men presented in Otobong Nkanga’s (1974, NG) photo series Alterscapes:Playground (2005-15), sometimes enclosed within the tireless experimentation with tapioca flour initiated by Razia Barzatie.
Since 2020, Rijksakademie resident Razia Barsatie (1982, SR) has been researching whether an ecological alternative to epoxy can be found. Tapioca flour answered her call: when you boil it, it becomes a transparent jelly that gradually hardens. This discovery led to the creation of the Tapioca schilderij (2022), a series of skin-looking pieces which are hanged as folded sheets on the walls of the exhibition space.
Behind these works, there is the aim to explore the properties of the materials, unfolding new organic and non-harmful possibilities of working with them. On the surface of the tapioca sculptures there are molds resulting from the chemical processes: like a living organism, these works breath and grow, interacting also with the patterns of the exhibition floor.
Next to them, Barsatie presents a series of one-line drawings in which she combines the visual elements of the tapioca skins with her own inner universe. Drawing has a therapeutic purpose for her, as it transfers the trauma from the soul onto the paper, therefore, liberating oneself from the unbearable heaviness of past wounds.
The action of drawing conceived as a cathartic process plays a central role also in the practice of artist Mariëlle Videler (1970, NL) who, since 2020, has meticulously nurtured her sequence of series 365. In 365 BIRDS she drew a bird every day for a whole year; the following year she did the same with plants for 365 PLANTS. Both these experiences have instilled in her a considerable quantity of knowledge about species and nature, a knowledge that is now asking to be released, shared with the world.
Just like an explosion of wisdom, the cluster of 7 drawings exhibited in the office space is the direct consequence of this necessity. Its lively colors are juxtaposed to an incredibly meticulous - almost meditative - technique, which is also reflected in Videler’s tapestries titled The secrets are in the plants (2020-21). These works represent the artist’s intention to tribute the rich and vibrant essence of the silent nature that surrounds us.
Photo credit: Peter Tijhuis