Ruth van Beek’s exhibition Greenhouse, her first solo show in Italy, was curated by Selva Barni and Francesco Zanot at Metronom Gallery in Modena (Italy), where it took place from May 4th to June 29th 2013. She was previously featured in Fantom #00, Summer 2009.
Greenhouse is one of the names Ruth van Beek gives to the archive in which she keeps photographic images of different kinds and on variable supports, from family albums to slides and newspaper clippings, which become the springboard for her own works.
Ruth van Beek uses photographs as if they were objects, composing with a style that recalls trite and everyday “cut & paste” operations, but her works open up to ever different subjects and results. Bringing together life size images with similar elements van Beek works in such a way that forms, dimension and colour interact to give the appearance of veracity to something that has never in fact existed. In this way aircraft incidents, strange objects or floral compositions are created which, through meticulous formal construction, succeed in rendering an image of reality and credibility.
Made up of objects with neither weight nor substance, headless animals, incidents without justification, the universe of Ruth van Beek appears at once impossible, beyond the rules governing the reality we live in that give us security. Nonetheless the material, solely photographic, that lends form to these works necessarily refers to our world, recording its surface with exactitude; but just a few folds in the paper are enough to render substantially unrecognisable, by some unusual combinations, that which we actually know. This is how Ruth van Beek triggers a short circuit between description and interpretation, transparency and opacity, joining the ranks of artists we define as visionary.
Part of the artistic tradition of those who employ pre-existing materials to create their works, Ruth van Beek continues to produce photographs. In fact her works play precisely upon mechanisms of trust and the identification of truth that define our relationship with photographic images. Moreover, the fact that she does not use a camera is at once an adjustment to contemporaneity (after almost 180 years of history and the advent of the Internet there are now billions of photographic images available in traditional and digital archives) and a political gesture that harks back to the logic of recycling (why create a new image when so many already exist?). She thus shows us that a photograph can be made even without looking through a lens.
Born in Holland in 1977, Ruth van Beek graduated at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy of Amsterdam in 2002.
Ruth van Beek has had a solo exhibitions at Lost Property, Amsterdam; AMC, Amsterdam; C3 Gallery, Amsterdam (2012); Galerie 37, Spaarnestad, Haarlem (2011); Okay Mountain, Austin Texas, U.S.A; Suze May Sho, Arnhem (2010); FOAM_ 3h, Amsterdam (2008). Her work has been part of group shows at Gallery LhGWR, DenHaag; Good Press Gallery, Glasgow (2012); Galery Koal, Berlin; Season Gallery, Seattle (2011); New York Photo Festival, Amsterdam Centrum voor Fotografie, Van Zoetendaal Gallery, Amsterdam (2010); Moser Performing Arts Center, Chicago U.S.A (2008).
Ruth Van Beek, Accidents from the Greenhouse Curated by Selva Barni and Francesco Zanot May, 4th - June, 29th, 2013 Metronom, Viale G. Amendola 142, Modena www.metronom.it