Are we talking about an outline of a shape when two ends of a line meet? Or must the contained space first give the idea of a figure in order to earn this title? When one entered the exhibition Amicale Succursale: “Prolongation”, Around ‘Wor((l)d)(k) in Progress?’, realized by Joëlle Tuerlinckx with the help of Agata Jastrzabek, these questions were brought to the fore. This exhibition – it’s title indicating that it was a kind of friendly franchise (Tuerlinckx inviting artist friends to participate) of her solo exhibition Wor(ld)k in Progress? at Wiels, Brussels – was an attempt to contextualize the artist’s own, multi-layered and cross-referencing work in yet another and different way.
In Dessins série contours lanoline’ (A) and (B) (Drawing Series with Lanolin Contours (A) and (B), 1985–8) as well as Contour tache bleue (Contour of a Blue Spot, c.1989) Tuerlinckx’s drawings dealt with contours and lines; repetition and variation. Starting from a blue spot on yellowed pieces of paper, outlines were redrawn and traced over and over until nothing remained of the original form and a completely new form developed. The play of referencing, modifying and representing could also be found in (and between) the works from the other invited artists – such as Emmanuelle Quertain, Orla Barry or Laurent Dupont. Quertain’s Études sur la notion de nature morte comme phrase (Studies of the Term Still-life in the Form of a Sentence, 2012) – a series of small oil paintings – repeated the same motif of a glass and a lemon over and over again. For Objet de Bruxelles (Château Des Demoiselles) and Objet de Bruxelles (Joseph) (both 2012), Dupont placed two almost identical and monochrome bottles– a beer bottle and a wine bottle – on a shelf. Amongst the various guests in this show, Willem Oorebeek stood out. Tuerlinckx has worked and collaborated with him for years and here was shown one of his so-called ‘Blackouts’ – blackened prints that he has been making for more than a decade. The work, Black Out Guillaume Bijl (1993) consists of a poster from one of the eponymous artist’s past exhibitions, that Oorebeek over-painted with black printing ink – the compositional elements such as text and image present only as silhouettes beneath the blackened foreground. Bijl’s original hung opposite. Only the position of the artist’s name on Poster (original) (1993) and the identical size of both works revealing Oorebeek’s intervention.
What started out on the formal level, with the drawings and minimal interventions characteristic of Tuerlinckx’ practice, gradually became more concrete. The twelve part Planches Explicatives ‘BILD oder’, série 13 ‘Monolith pages + journal spots’ (2004), so-called ‘display boards’ taken from double-page spreads of the 2004 artist book BILD, oder (BILD, or) made by Oorebeek and Tuerlinckx, consisted of combinations of clippings from newspapers with blacked-out graphic forms and fragments of text. Questions of the construction of mass media images and the ‘architecture’ of contemporary information distribution were raised through the removal of parts and additions, collaging and over-painting of the newspaper clippings that were rendered unrecognisable. In Planches Explicatives the deliberateness of placement suggested links between text and images only for these to dissolve into randomness. Time and again lines, spots and contours and the suggested outlines of figures raised questions of authorship: whether or not it was that of the media, contemporary art or a specific personalized style.
The abundance of material shown in this exhibition, made clear the interwoven nature of Tuerlinckx’ practice. One composed of temporary collaboration and solitary actions; socially relevant themes and personal perceptions; formal precision and everyday forms. This profusion and diversity, far from appearing random, made it possible to grasp a practice defined by a process of permanent repetition and development.
Translated by Dominic Eichler