How does a photograph gain – or lose – its value and meaning once it has been made? What are the mechanisms at play? And what is the artist’s role in the process? These are recurrent themes in the work by Daniëlle Van Ark. Her solo exhibition in Foam raises questions about authenticity and the determination of value, especially in photography: the reproducible medium par excellence.
For Daniëlle van Ark photography is the most ephemeral of all media. With the development of steadily more advanced reproduction technologies, the expiration date of a photograph seems to diminish exponentially. Where the photograph was a unique and precious item in the nineteenth century, today everyone can record and reproduce memories at just a push of a button. But amidst the deluge of fleeting images produced and consumed every day, to what extent can something or someone still be truly immortalised?
Van Ark is interested in the opaque systems of value creation in an era where everything seems to have become reproducible. Scouring flea markets and online auction sites, she acquired antiquated image archives that formed the starting point for new work. Among her booty were a box full of glass negatives produced by a bridal photo studio in the early twentieth century; rapidly aging auction catalogues; and the image archive of an American newspaper. Like a beachcomber, she collected now-obsolete images and gave them a new lease of life. No image was sacred in the process, and the rear side, the printer’s proof and the negative were considered just as significant as the final reproduction. Her own archive was subjected to the same scrutiny: works she produced in the past were deconstructed and reused with the same unscrupulous rigour.
The exhibition contains works from Van Ark’s most recent series, including Share Moments. Share Life. (2017), 3 Vitrines Showcasing the Flexibility of a Picture of a Picture (2017), Contemporary Art (2015-17), A Picture Of… (2015) and Today Everything Exists to End in a Photograph (2015-2017). Common premise is the volatile meaning and value of the photograph as a reproducible art form. In addition to Van Ark’s most recent work, the exhibition also presents an installation created specifically for the Foam exhibition rooms in which the artist reflects on the selective ways in which her own work, too, gains value and significance. The installation consists of ‘old’ work, which is ‘stored’ on depot carts and shelves in the museum. The dusted-down works were far from randomly chosen: for Curator’s Office (2008-10), Van Ark photographed the offices and desks of curators in various prominent art institutions such as the MoMA and Artforum. Her installation is a playful protest against the power of the curator to position her work in the public eye – or to withhold it from view.
DANIËLLE VAN ARK
Daniëlle van Ark (Schiedam, 1974) studied at The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague and was a resident at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. Her work has been displayed in numerous exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad. In 2006 Foam exhibited her first solo exhibition, For Art’s Sake, in Foam 3h. Her work was displayed in Museum van Loon in Amsterdam in 2012, as part of the collaborative project Foam in Van Loon. In 2014 her work was featured in the Foam collection exhibition Reflected, Works From the Collection. Van Ark’s work is included in the collections of Foam, De Nederlandsche Bank, ABN AMBRO, De Brauw, LUMC, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, AMC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Museum Voorlinden, and various private collections. Daniëlle van Ark lives and works in Amsterdam and is represented by tegenboschvanvreden.
The works in the exhibition were generously lent by the artist, tegenboschvanvreden, De Nederlandsche Bank, Museum Voorlinden, Family Servais Collection, Jo Crützen, Monique Jennen and Marc Meuwissen.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds.
Artist’s Proof by Daniëlle van Ark can be seen from 20 Apri – 10 June 2018 at Foam. Open daily 10am – 6pm, Thurs/Fri 10am – 9pm.
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