Artist : Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven
Title : Dubbele Schedeltrom
Date(s) : 2010
Website : firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, review by Marianne Van Boxelaere
It would be somewhat foolish not to agree on the fact that we are still living in a male-dominated art world. However, art museums and curators attempt to catch up more than ever by giving more visibility to female artists within the organization of exhibitions. Currently on view in the Museum of Modern Art in New York for example, is a large solo exhibition of Cindy Sherman, who is widely recognized as one of the most influential contemporary artists. The same can be said for Documenta XIII, the key international exhibition of contemporary art worldwide taking place every five years in Kassel, which for this edition will be curated by Chus Martinez. In Belgium, three important art institutions (M HKA in Antwerp, WIELS in Brussels and Mu.ZEE in Ostend) are representing female artists who work around the themes of gender and sexuality: Chantal Akerman, Rosemarie Trockel and Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven respectively.
In ‘Mistress of the Horizon’, a co-production between Mu.ZEE and the Renaissance Society in Chicago, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven (Antwerp, 1951) shows video animations, digital prints, drawings and other representative works in a self-assembled exhibition architecture based on the horizon line of the North Sea. Her vivid, vibrant collages capture the eye immediately while ascending the stairs to the first floor. Soft-pornographic images of women, intense colour fields and blocks of text are discretely juxtaposed in style and scale, large enough to immerse the visitor into a curious and intriguing universe.
Underneath the undeniable visual quality of the drawings and the prints, we see Van Kerckhoven’s self-proclaimed interest in artificial intelligence and the nude female form emerging in the works on display. But rather than showing the naked female body directly, she uses images from soft-porn magazines, which are then manipulated digitally. Even in her examination of the social construct of gender and truism of femininity, her approach has diverged exhaustively over the past thirty years from that implemented by other male and female artists for whom gender has played a role in their adoption of fluctuating identities.
Curators often compare Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven’s oeuvre to a ‘journey of discovery’, an adventure trip or, to quote Phillip Van den Bossche, director of Mu.Zee; “an underwater world where our body becomes liquid and we change gender, depending on the currents of visual noise”. Whilst swimming through the various collages of ultrasonic waves and coloured abstractions, the spectator is confronted with the artist’s ideas on the paradigms of occult philosophies and utopian ideologies, which states the core where Mistress of the Horizon departs from. Hamza Walker, Associate Curator for The Renaissance Society in Chicago, outlines the artist’s oeuvre by asking “what if Photoshop had a Hieronymus Bosch effect; and what would the results look like if that version of Photoshop were to be made available to constructivists in Hugh Hefner’s employment?”. Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven’s digitally manipulated nudes have very little in common with the objectified nudity in Hugh Hefner’s world, though they are a response to it and its further proliferation. It would be difficult not to find appreciation for Van Kerckhoven’s artistic response to these issues.