Hide & Seek
(exerpt  text by Sofie Verdoodt, cordinator OFFoff art cinema and professor in film-history on the Hide & Seek installation )


Hide & seek

mixed media installation

Part 1 consists of 3 wooden boxes 270 x 70cm with 3 lcdscreens

Part 2 plastic curtain with projection 300 x 400cm

Part 3 Lcdscreen on wall in window frame

Hide & Seek is a reflection of the artistic  coming of age of two young artists: Elke Desutter (°1987) and Arjan Vanmeenen (°1986).
The installation is the result of a unique chemical process of fusion and solidification of two highly individual practices. To obtain this symbioses, it was essential to question the basic principles of one anothers work.
Hide & Seek allows itself to be easily described in cinematographic terms:
where one focuses, the other will zoom out.
The triptych installation mutates in correlation to how far or deep the spectator is willing to look.
To hide and to search,  to conceal and reveal are not merely the starting points of the artist, but it is also a mission for the spectator. The teeming and whirling, extreme close-ups only reveal themselves when the visitor (re)positions his or her own body to achieve the correct vantage point(s). If not they will only be seen as abstract specter of color.
The second portion found in the window construction, allows viewers to choose wether or not to identify an anthropomorh silhouette in the tableau or regard it as a trick of shadows. Ambiguity and changing perspectives hold court when invited to  watch or walk through the third arm of the work.

Desutter and Vanmeenen crawled underneath each others skin and inside each others ears and pass this privilege on to the spectators.
Pure texture and colorful shapes betray Desutter’s involvement, who was already praised for her sensual and feminine signature when she won the West Flanders Provincial Art Prize.
Vanmeenen’s project regarding dreams under the name DreamCamEra testify he draws on abstract concepts and the unmentionable experiences.
This project is made contemporary due to the simultaneous and unaffected combination of materials, defiant of categorization. Interchangeable order of image and sound and transparent images out face the spatial constructions, remeneschet of  Pandora’s boxes in which they are nested.
Multiple screen set-ups unlock a collective viewing experience after which  spectators are subtly guided back to their own private inner experience.

Contemporary yet firmly anchored in tradition: the artists utilized trailed artistic methods such as generating a ‘stream of consciousness’ or a ‘cadavre exquis’.
Dealing with the unconscious is an important aspect, especially in Vanmeenen’s work.

Hide & Seek unveils a step by step ‘exquis body’, a collaborative audiovisual poem in which the artists alternate between intertwining and quietly letting go.

Altough  Elke Desutter and Arjan Vanmeenen have walked similar paths, they  both  developed a very distinct and individual styles.
Like their personalities, their work has a multitude of common ground but in other respects they are complete opposites.

Desutter’s work present the physical  body as  something personal. Her work is given for and takes form both consciously and unconsciously.
The body is not always obviously visible in her work as it is often estranged from its original context.
On the verge between  documentary and make belief, the body isn’t seen as a form but is represented as such.
The bodies evoke a tangibility which is undisclosed, allowing the viewers to make connections on an instinctual level. At first glance, her images  often appear disarmingly simple, but soon reveal their multiple layers to  careful the spectator.

While Desutter uses the human body, quite often her own body as a starting point , Vanmeenen focuses on the intangible and invisible.
The common denominator in the work of Arjan Vanmeenen is a fascination with dream-logic.  By means of duplication and (de)reconstructions he creates alternative realities, a ‘trans-fiction’ in which dream and illusion intertwine with reality. Thereby creating a Gestalt that transcends the junction between both perception .
While Desutter generally makes colorful, sensual videos, Vanmeenen ‘smuggles’ his video and sound installations in crate, boxes, booths and containers. While Desutter shows the form as a hyper personal object, Vanmeenen aims to make the listener /viewer to construct  and conjure up their own form individually.

Where Desutter’s work might have an exhibitionistic undercurrent, Vanmeenen will force viewers to look thought peeping hole, put their heads in boxes to spy on small screens or invite multiple listeners to listen to a narrative which has been custom manipulated, to prevent a consensus on the narrative but attain an uncanny familiarity.
The (un)conscious voyeur-exhibitions dynamic between the work of both artists generates a friction and attraction.

Both artist deal with conceiving artistic ideas on a regular basis. Contrary to a 'casual' idea, artistic ideas will not allow themselves to be easily pinned  down. They often defy translation, and during the creative process, an artistic concept has nack to mutate. The idea will grow, fragment, accumulate, occasionally bond with or reject other elements.
The body is a metaphor for the idea as an untabgable, ever changing concept. It is present but fleeting.

The  installation has various approaches to investigate the flux of this idea.  The first part is an act with the physical space, multiple screens are incased in boxes with varying angles, depth and formats, allowing for a myriad of angles, inviting the viewers to move, and duck to spy on the screens.Sometimes the montage is clinical and spare, other time chaotic, visceral and overwhelming

The second part refers to shadow-play and the (illusion of) structure of domestic architecture. The viewer can see the video through a window, a figure is (dis)integrated unto the image. Uncertain of it's own composition, distances and positions gently shift.
The third wing of the installation is a large projection of industrial flaps (used for welding) a sequence of bodies moving in water. Often times the border between abstract and figurative are blurred and the physical movement of the seedily black projection screen amplifies the movement and fluidity of the matter on matter projection. When approaching the installation from the other side, the viewer walks though a dark corridor to find the same  projection, mirrored and this time with a green hue, not unlike that of a nighttime recording. Visitors are invited to walk though the projection. Exploring the spatial elements of the installation and also physically adding to the image by enabling the projection field move.