Benjamin Schoones | Studio Encounter
Hollow Hum, Femur, Vase, Carriers. St. Joost, School of art and Design. Breda. 2022
by Giacomo Galletti
Something that is a carrier needs to be carried as well.
The following text is a report of a studio visit conducted by Giacomo Galletti, curator from Lugano, Switzerland. He visited the studio of Benjamin Schoones who is an artist living & working in Breda, The Netherlands. The texts in italic are fragments of texts written by Benjamin Schoones.
On the way to Benjamin Schoones’ studio, I look again at his portfolio and reread some of the texts that appear on the pages.
Kick, Kick, take a dip!
At first, I was afraid, but now excited,
to think twice as much,
to make everything fit.
I am excited to be told about his work. Excited to frame my impressions and to draw connections between what I have seen and what I imagine. Schoones’ developed his practice through a set of techniques and solutions: Oil painting on canvas made with marbling techniques, pottery lathe sculpture, installation, and sound. I noticed immediately that in his works, some elements recur and repeat themselves, marks, and modifications. The same objects: a vase, a femur, and grey plastic boxes reappear in different installation solutions. They are rearranged in other works.
How do objects & materials appear in a certain way to make structures visible? Questioning and uncovering these existing structures and making connections in the multitude of things in such a way that we can outline and emphasize them in a visual character.
Some of the recurring elements that Benjamin Schoones employs in his installations are kept in grey plastic boxes in his studio. The same ones he uses for displays and storage solutions. The artist chooses elements for his work because of their different origins, such as the human body- femur-, artisanal artifact- barrel, and industrial product- plastic boxes, within a single system that seems almost codified, removing the scale of values and relating them without hierarchy.
It seems urgent to allow semantically estranged elements to coexist. This cohabitation sometimes seems organic but is more often enforced by ribbons, knots, and straps. With toil, they compress the works and make them stick together, creating physical connections where the intention was symbolic.
A constant interaction of rearrangement, juxtaposing, revising & repeating specific actions raises questions & materialistic interactions that may cause a little tension before we get along.
Benjamin Schoones tells me about the marble technique he adopts to make the canvases. This involves suspending liquid and oily elements that repel the water surface. He then dips the canvas into it and captures an image by withdrawing the canvas from the container. I allow myself to imagine that the more abstract elements of his work, the marbled surfaces, could refer to satellite images or organisms visible only with micro reading equipment, or possibly the glistening skin of a reptile. The sense of alienation that besets me comes from the scale at which the works are perceived. A slight sense of alienation exists because I am simultaneously in micro and in macro.
I sometimes feel like a person who is making it (artwork). I should be a material as well as an acting actor within the making and something that brings together in that sense.
Despite this fascination with new worlds, reimagined from what we know, Benjamin Schoones does not want to trick us into believing we are elsewhere by camouflage strategies. On the contrary, the sometimes forced co-existence of the various elements highlights precisely the way Benjamin constructed the installations, their structural system, and the procedures.
I cannot help but think that even the artist’s body is an element amidst the others during the making of the work, moving in search of assonances and putting itself at the service of the materials like a belt or a zip line does. There is a playful aspect and a willingness not to judge the materials he works with, whether they are new and have just come out of a package or found in a junkyard, they can all be part of the game.
In the first image of his portfolio, we see him walking on stilts. The first impression it gives is: the artist puts himself in a slightly different position than usual (a few centimeters above the ground, walking like a little giant among the elements). Perhaps the slight height difference helps him to observe his works with new eyes, to unearth details in the surfaces, colours, and textures that he would not see with his feet on the ground.
His approach refers as much to industrial design as to craft techniques and reflects on the artist’s authorship. Through displacement, a step back, and collective working practices ( Benjamin is part of a Networked collective and has often worked side by side with colleagues ), developing traditional craft knowledge, notions of anti-design, and strategies to ‘do it together’. Schoones’ practice is articulate, sensitively immersed in the contexts in which he works, and subtly evokes the tensions of the present.
Bio Benjamin Schoones
Benjamin Schoones (1993 Boxtel, NL) gained a Bachelor of Arts from Academy St.Joost in Breda, The Netherlands (with honours). Recent exhibitions include: It is part XXXII of an ensemble, and this ensemble is no longer necessarily ceremonial (like ducks in a pond, breaking bad, nai patta), Tilburg, NL, Networked Collective at Museum De Pont, 2022; It is part XXX of an ensemble, and this ensemble is no longer necessarily ceremonial, Sint-Martens-Latem, BE, Networked Collective at Museum Dhondt Dhaenens 2022; Wegens Omstandigheden is er Momenteel Geen Titel, Eindhoven, NL, Group exhibition at De Fabriek, 2022; You Me, You, Rotterdam, NL, group exhibition at Neck of the Woods III, 2022.
Website Benjamin Schoones
Bio Giacomo Galletti
Giacomo Galletti has been a co-director of Die Sonnestube artist-run space based in Lugano (CH), since 2015. He founded Die Sonnestube in 2013. It is an itinerant off-space in Lugano that focuses on exhibiting contemporary art and sometimes stages music events. Occasionally a fanzine market is organised with limited editions and art magazines.
Giacomo Galletti graduated from Accademia di belle Arti di Urbino where he centered his thesis on Artist-run Spaces & Alternative Press 1960-1980. Apart from working as an independent curator and art printmaker, his research focuses on underground publishing phenomena as political, technical, and iconographic laboratories of autonomy. He based his practice on DIY and Collectives knowledge and ethics. Giacomo Galletti was among the founders of the independent cultural center Spazio Morel in Lugano, where he curated the exhibition program and the Faustine books library. In his print shop, together with artists, illustrators, and graphic designers, he produces art prints, posters, fanzines, and multiples in limited editions.