Sunday, 12 January 2014

JOËLLE TUERLINCKX: WOR(L)D(K) IN PROGRESS? exhibition at Bristol 'Arnolfini'

It wasn't just Joëlle. It was in 'The Alchemist' that I first came across this idea. That if you regard everyone and everything you come in contact with as being able to take on a role of a teacher, then you can learn the secrets of life from literally everything. I think it has something to do with the electricity and the electromagnetic waves (if you will) that all of us, live beings, emit. If you are tuned into the frequency in which the Universe is tuned into, then you will pick up its waves, and it will change the angle from which you are looking, to make you see things that you overlooked before, and discover wells of knowledge in the simplest little things and creatures.

Even my little hamster Alfred who sadly passed away last weekend, taught me a few lessons. This little ball of fur who was so active as soon as he was let out of cage, that he would not get distracted by anyone who stood in his way and tried to play with him, taught us all who knew him, that you should always bear in mind how little time you have and use that time wisely. Be as active and hardworking, and determined. But if you are imprisoned or unable to do it for reasons beyond your control, do what Alfred did when he was in his cage, and have a long rest. If there is nothing else you can physically do, don't waste your resources, save them for a time when you will be let out again.

How does that relate to Joëlle? To me, her work (made up of random pieces of cardboard, plastic bags, seemingly unrelated newspaper clippings, lines and circles, cubes and spheres and bloody kitchen knives, and buckets half-suspended in the air) spells out the message that everything is interconnected by rules and laws of logic. If we look for knowledge in everything we come in contact with, however small it be, the Universal law states that we will find an abundance of knowledge. Joëlle sees knowledge in everything - bin-liners, footprints left on surfaces, in her memories and paper clippings. She reminds us not to forget that the world is enchanted. The real, physical world is enchanted, not just our childhood memories and fairy-tales. We just have to open our eyes and believe that it is real.

For me, the biggest clue to solving the puzzle of her work, was her childhood drawing of a cut-out fish with a circle drawn around it. For her, it is art, because the circle creates a context for the fish, a place where it dwells, where we all dwell. Perhaps art is being able to see how little things relate to bigger things, how each informs and beautifies the other. Her work travels with her like a mobile studio and re-emerges in new forms in various galleries and destinations. The world is her chess-board and each exhibition is a new move, that always follows a logical pattern that only those who are trained in the game, can see.

photo taken from

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