Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Sarah Van Marcke.
Lives in Antwerp, Belgium
How do you describe your own art practice?
I’m a visual artist, interested in photography, video, sculpture and performance. Using everyday materials I create simple installations and scenarios full of pathos and humor.
I’m driven by a need to understand and by an urge of getting lost in the history of specific urban situations and architecture -researching their use, inhabitants, architects, surrounding context, while mixing facts with fiction.
What was your first experience with art?
My mother is an actress and my father a painter and musician so I spend a lot of time in theaters and ateliers. But my first most influential experience with art might have been some classes from a Dutch Language teacher at high school. They were about artists working with the idea of utopia. During these classes we watched Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, read extracts from Orwell’s 1984 and learned about utopian cities like Brasilia. These subjects kind of sticked.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
Interesting spaces and buildings are mostly the trigger for a new project. It doesn’t have to be an architectural masterpiece, it could just as well be an old dusty office space.
What do you need in order to create your work?
I need a lot of time. I work very slow and meticulous and although installations are often very simple I work a long time on getting everything right and eliminating superfluous elements.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on two projects simultaneously. A long-term project on the legacy of an unknown man who deceased in 2013. The house in the woods he lived in was packed with books and personal belongings. He was a priest and a writer, a traveler and a collector of small paraphernalia. The house is now inhabited by my parents.
I helped them sorting things out and while cleaning and arranging his former objects and habitat I started too discover the man.
And an other ongoing project starts from left behind objects found at specific closed down shops and office spaces. Places where time comes to a standstill. Whereas for entrepreneurs the look of these contemporary ruins is disruptive, for me, the are an invitation for musing, a poetic resource. Empty storefront windows, old posters and calendars, fading colors, dust…
What work or artist has most recently surprised you?
I’m still very impressed by James Beckett’s installation at the Belgian pavilion of the 2015 Venice Biennale, “Negative Space: A Scenario Generator for Clandestine Building in Africa”.
This work consists of an automated storage and retrieval machine – such as those used in warehouses and pharmacies. The machine was reconfigured in order to arrange wooden building blocks to create portraits of specific Modernist buildings across Africa. The perfectly designed and executed machinery gathering the blocks with such a great care and caution felt poetic as well as disturbing.