Embracing the cold outside, we ventured to the warmth of the Arnolfini to view Joelle Tuerlincx’s expansive exhibition. WOR(L)D(K) IN PROGRESS? fills the gallery spaces with an overview of the artist’s oeuvre from the past 20 years, alongside newly produced works.
She transforms the various elements into elaborate displays – encompassing photographs, newspaper cuttings, sculptures and architectural installations.
Her utilisation of diverse textures and artistic mediums directs the viewer to a philosophical reflection of her work. Tuerlinckx’s use of space represents this philosophical contemplation; filled with thoroughgoing collections in which every detail is sampled, encouraging comparisons and considerations in an often entertaining manner.
The exhibition takes stage on three different floors, where the viewer ventures through their own consideration of ‘progress’; this being both human progress and the development of Tuerlinckx’s artistic career itself. In Gallery 1, Tuerlinckx’s work is concerned with the memories that objects evoke, both personal and in relation to collective experiences. The viewer is immediately struck by the sheer florescence of the orange surfaces. Her use of this vibrant backdrop represents creativity, determination and success; central themes of Tuerlinckx’s work.
Basic visual elements such as lines, circles and dots are a a current focus of Tuerlinckx’s exhibition. These appear in drawings and collages but also in physical objects such as metal wires, wooden bars and demarcations of tape and rope. Through the diversity of media, she combines the representation of geometric figures in the mind to the way in which they are exhibited in the natural world. One work on the floor consists of a line connecting two stones, which were collected by the artist at different locations and at different times. Tuerlinckx is interested in the status of objects when they are collected and preserved, and the conventions that have been used typically to present. Thereby leading us to consider their history and cultural value.
In Gallery 1, the artist presents her art works from very different periods of her life, arranged in categories of geometric shapes, to exemplify a kind of artistic vocabulary.
What is interesting about Tuerlinckx’s work is that her representation of these visual elements is never perfect.
Her minimal technique, portraying straight lines, cubes and cones is juxtaposed with erratic cartography resembling child like scrawls. Herein we see two different temporal dimensions colliding, where the progress of her own artistic work ranging from assorted time frames is exposed. This represents the ongoing progress and improvement of human advancements.
We are encouraged to contemplate the value we assign to material objects and other collective experiences we take to be known.
In Gallery 2, and continuing into Gallery 3, a large series of collages is presented which contain images and drawings created by the artist. Like the objects used in her installations, these images are integrated as collections. Combined with her drawings, these pull together different political, social and economic elements- men, women, language and numbers. In many pieces, Tuerlinckx refers to the signs and systems that standardise the world in order to allow communication, such as paper size formats, newspaper cuttings and explanatory diagrams.
Tuernlinckx’s artistic style on these two stages resembles the logic of the internet; using analogue methods she surfs for formal criteria, zooming in occasionally, as we see with the large poster of a photography taken by the artist of an advertisement of women’s underwear. Her utilisation of avant-garde artistic measures – the repeated audio voices projected in Gallery 3 -bring us into what seems like a time warp. Where, our present technological advances dominate our being, just as the sound does when we venture around Gallery 3. The documentation of her projects-images, physical remnants, or artists’ books are a central focus of the artist’s work, developing an organic process for future display. The large series of discs, Ronds, in Galleries 3 and 4 are sections of wall works and architectural installations, taken directly from outdoor walls or other substances, which the artist has re-surfaced from previous exhibitions. Recycling materials and former works are, simply put, the old becoming the new.
The flourishing of our civilisation is brought about by development, achievement, cultural reflection and a rejuvenation of our past.
By Charlotte Peet