Marijke van Warmerdam

By selecting small events or slightly surreal situations from the indeterminate flow of existence, Marijke van Warmerdam’s art casts light on their poetic monumentality. In her works, the continuous oscillation between polar opposites, loads the microcosms she describes with multiple meanings. Inviting viewers to experience time as a floating phenomenon the artist constructs her films in endless loops, projecting them in settings in which natural light can stream in freely. Not restricting herself to any one medium, she makes equal use of 35- or 16-millimeter film, photography, and sculpture.
In the film Roeren in de verte (Stirring in the distance), 2004, the focus is on an interior, distinguished only by a tea cup placed on a table. A window separates and shelters the domestic interior from the snow falling outside. This picture of peace is gradually modified by the unexpected increase in the snowfall. Almost as if another event were anticipated, the change in weather is followed by the action of a female hand that enters the camera’s field. Picking up a teaspoon, the hand begins to stir the beverage. Then the spoon is placed once again on the saucer. The concatenation of the two events reaches its culmination when, the whirling motion of the tea having subsided, a steady snowfall resumes.
In Dream machine, 2006, the human gesture is invisible, but its effects are central to the work. The film begins with an image of a glass of water, into which some milk is poured. The different consistency of the two fluids creates a dance of lines that trace the infinite possibilities of a drawing, free to expand in multiple directions. The white liquid gradually saturates the water and the resulting monochrome occupies the entire projection screen. A subsequent movement of the movie camera reveals a change in the background against which the glass stands out. While at the beginning of the film, the background seems grayish and indistinct, when the milk blends with the water, it becomes colored.
In contrast, an outdoor setting characterizes Wake Up!, 2006. The camera is fixed on a sun-filled country landscape, featuring a flowery field that extends out toward a hillside. This idyll is interrupted by a sudden incongruous jet of water, as if someone off screen had hurled a bucketful onto the scene. Alluding to a sudden awakening that seems to turn into an idyllic somnolence, the gesture produces no apparent results and the water is immediately absorbed by the soil and the plants.

[M.B.]

Artworks