Routines and Figures
Katrein Breukers, Routines and Figures, SEA Foundation Tilburg 2018, Untitled, Glazed Ceramics, 88 x 21 x 25 cm
Routines and Figures
This three-artist exhibition, that carries the subtitle “Strokes, ‘Tricks’ and Floating Formations”, is to conclude Yelena Povova’s residency at SEA Foundation. In an organic and rhizomatic way, this exhibition draws together three different artistic practices. The artists An Onghena (BE), Katrein Breukers (NL) and their practices were introduced to Yelena Popova (RU/UK) during her residency at SEA Foundation. All three artists explore the concept of sculptural space (figures) and performative possibilities (routines) in different ways. They brought their work together in a show that grew on individual effort, mutual time and cross-disciplinary thinking, without a pre-defined structure, and without a pre-conceived plan. Open-ended, non-hierarchal collaboration with mutual benefit in mind for everyone involved.
Their relationship, however, remains complex and unpredictable. Which in a way is similar to the works in the show that combines newly produced works with concepts that resonate between the finished and unfinished. Alliances that model the reflective and the spontaneous. Like an organism, an art practice grows, proliferates, surprises and yet is vulnerable at the same time as it has already projected an undefined goal. Like a well-stocked supermarket where all the products for a delicious meal are on display; homegrown, freshly picked, assorted, canned or frozen, pre-baked with additives, natural or film-wrapped. It is up to the viewer to select and prepare the ingredients according to a recipe. And when the kitchen work is done, hopefully, the cook encounters good company to enjoy the meal with.
Collaboration and the research of its effects on the economy continues to be widely researched amongst others by the Russian economist Victor Polterovich who published in 2017 “Positive collaboration: Factors and mechanisms of evolution”. In contrast in art practices, (positive) collaboration was only scantly researched between 2007 and 2011 and the further exploration of the subject has nowadays lost momentum. How collaboration in art practices explore the value and nature of relationships within collaboration and how self- determination could benefit from positive collaboration has never been researched.
Yelena Popova’s recent work is inspired by the history of nuclear physics. Yelena was born in the USSR in a closed city where the first Soviet nuclear reactor produced the plutonium needed for the realization of the Soviet’s nuclear bombs. Her practice took a participative turn during her recent residency at The Art House, in Wakefield (UK) last May. Inspired by Klaus Fuchs, a ‘nuclear spy’, she developed a lawn/gallery flooring game called Townlets, a playful deconstruction of competition and power structures. The game combines an image of a plutonium atom with the traditional Russian game “Gorodki”. Through this game of balance, Popova questions the nature of politics, sports competition, and power relations. During the residency at SEA Foundation, she produced a concept for less competitive and more collaborative/performative approaches to games. Yelena Popova has been exhibited widely in Europe. She received an MFA from the Royal College of Art in London 2011.
Katrein Breukers is a versatile artist from Tilburg who strives to create a connection with the immediate surroundings, both the physical as well as the experienced environments. She does so by humorously putting them in perspective. She works primarily with sculpture, with an element of performance occasionally incorporated, and is interested in the fluidity of objects, which can turn into a stage for a performance. For example the wooden model of Hotel Maria Kapel, which became a DJ booth during the opening of the exhibition, ‘Tribute to Julian B. Coco’, 2017.
Katrein Breukers strives for a personable approach towards the audience, the space, and her work; her work is playful and not restricted to any particular medium although she seems to favor ceramics and textiles. A number of works in the show were made during her recent residency at the European Ceramic Work Centre (EKWC). “I like working with ceramics. It’s very physical, you leave your traces in the soft clay. But it is also a slow process, the sculptures show how I constantly change my mind”. With textiles and its relation to fashion, she explores the materiality of everyday life. In 2015 she received her MFA at the AKV St. Joost in the Netherlands and in 2017 she was awarded a work development grant for young emerging artists from the Mondriaan Fund.
With a touch of fiction and humor, An Onghena explores the boundaries between science and art. In her practice she attempts to understand “the unknown”, she is especially fascinated by underlying systems. In her projects, An Onghena works with data that she collects from books and from online sources. In 2015 she encountered an old atlas, depicting the other side of the Moon according to the Soviet Union. With her interest in science and fiction, she explored this mysterious object. During her postgraduate studies at the Sint Lucas School of Arts in Antwerp, she developed her first atlas with a description of all the craters and objects on the dark side of the moon. This project was continued as an artist in residence at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, The Netherlands.