Awareness of your own mortality gives urgency to live. In 1926, Hendrik Marsman polishes gift of expression to his vitalistic attitude towards life in his famous poem Lex Barbarorum (Law of the Barbarians). To live your life intensely and completely was his answer to oppression and desolation; not to give in to fixed structures or the restrictions of any authority: "I acknowledge but one law: to live."
This spirit resonates with the work of Saminte Ekeland (Rotterdam, 1972). She feels a deep-rooted attraction to Marsmans' writing and senses a struggle between dark and light in his poetry: 'the dying of light,' our shadows' and that feels like a promise to life: '
I shall use my time. I shall not wait my days extending them. "
Ekeland's solo exhibition Lex Barbarorum on the one hand reflects this struggle as well as it is intended to express the celebration of life and the individual's mortality.
The visual language of Saminte Ekeland shows many-layered artworks, characterized by their chemical marriage between material, style, and content. All of Ekeland's works are drawn with threads and needle. As the carrier for the embroidery drawings, she uses a thick see-through polyester, the same child used for windows in the production of high-end yachts.
In this sense, the 'canvas' itself forms an important part of what she wants to bring across; it is always a canvas – in – the – world. As paintings or drawings could be viewed as a seduction to the viewer to see through the eyes of the artist, Ekeland's use of see-through plastic as the base of work makes it a literal window to the world.
Her manner of expression has evolved in the last 18 years from abstract collages using paper cut-outs fixed with presentation pins to embroidery drawings of figurative and more abstract images on artificial fiber. The images are made of thread and nylon stockings, black plastic, sometimes also, making use of copper-, silver- and gold thread. The latter is the least expected and hardest to use for embroidery. One work might start off with drawing in acrylic. Sometimes she just start straight ahead with drawing with yarn. The first step after deciding the subject is always making small sketches.
The source material is either a private image or a photograph carefully selected from the current or gone by news media. The form is also driven by the content of the work. In a certain way, the form reflects the content. Or makes a contrast. The technique and material could be sensed as vulnerable and fluid, whereas the subject or theme can be very sharp and harsh.
Ekeland describes herself as an individual anarchist. A characteristic and attitude towards life she was always subconsciously aware of but came to surface after being grasped by 'Der Einzige und sein Eigentum' (1845, Max Stirner). Ekeland: 'I see this work of Stirner as an ecstatic masterpiece. It is one of the most extreme books ever written. His iconoclastic egoism is exhilarating and his intellectual precision is splitting, his expression harsh and challenging: "Make yourself be heard!"
Previously exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum Zwolle, part of the large-scale wall installation My ideal punk band is shown at Lex Barbarorum. The band is an ever-growing collection of embroidery drawings depicting a wide range of artists and thinkers. The members of the band were and are, through time selected not so much for their ability as musicians, but rather for their expression and attitude towards life. The band currently includes, among others: Bertrand Russell, Sid Vicious, Egon Schiele, Muhammed Ali, Henrik Ibsen, Johnny Rotten, but also Ekeland's partner in life, filmmaker and artist Rolf den Dunnen. 'It is the anarchistic attitudes of these poets, mavericks, from all draws of life, fits, and present that attracts Ekeland.
© Rolf den Dunnen