Marijke van Warmerdam -- The Flower Show

Marijke van Warmerdam
The Flower Show
16/01/2009 - 07/03/2009

Marijke van Warmerdam is internationally renowned for her short films. In the early nineties she made her first non-narrative film loops, which led Daniel Birnbaum to call her the "Loop Guru of the eternally flowing present." Together with her photographs and sculptures these form a consistent body of work. With a typically light touch, the work combines a deceptively naïve approach to the act of seeing with straightforward strategies such as dramatic shifts of scale and rhythm, doubling and reflection to urge us to look with our eyes wide open in order to stress that not everything is what it seems. Nowadays she has developed this retinal openness to themes which deal more explicitly with perception.

Marijke van Warmerdam’s exhibition The Flower Show includes a film loop called Trembling, 2008, which is surrounded by a number of painted film stills. ‘Trembling’ shows nothing but a trembling bunch of white petunias, with a road surface rushing by in the background. The film stills are printed on linen and have white flowers painted on them by the artist in a vigorous and rapid manner. By means of fast Tai-Chi-like movements she has obtained a striking separation between foreground and background. Her apt painterly gesture brings about a doubling that occurs in all sorts of ways in her work. What is special is that in both the Trembling film loop and in the paintings, called Flower and Flowers, white flowers hover in the foreground, while a quieter background image produces a counter-movement. A disturbance of the rhythm or the movement effects a splendid contrast of ‘here’ and ‘there’ in the work.

Van Warmerdam uses the themes of repetition and movement above all as a means of evoking a feeling of lightness and an uninhibited future. These are always in the service of an infectious optimism. At the same time her feel-good art broaches the difference between pure ‘looking’ and the more cerebral ‘seeing’, inviting the viewer to think about what and how he perceives.

Born in Holland in 1959, she has lived and worked in New York and Berlin, and is now based in Amsterdam. Her work has featured in numerous important international exhibitions, including the Sydney, Berlin, Kwangju and Venice Biennials, and Documenta X. She has had retrospective exhibitions at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Migros Museum in Zurich, ICA in Boston, Muhka in Antwerp, MAC in Marseille, The Fruitmarket in Edinburgh and IKON in Birmingham.