The Artist “Scavenging” Past Work to Create New Pieces

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Easy does it 2017 C Danielle van Ark
Easy does it, 2017, from the series Share Moments. Share Life© Daniëlle van Ark/ courtesy tegenboschvanvreden

Daniëlle Van Ark’s practice involves combing through both vintage finds and her own oeuvre to make new art

Photography and its ephemerality are key points of interest for Dutch artist Daniëlle van Ark. The Amsterdam-based image-maker addresses such ideas in her multifaceted work, which ranges in form across photography, collage, sculpture and installation. Artist’s Proof is a forthcoming exhibition at the Dutch capital’s Foam museum of Van Ark’s captivating work, bringing together a number of her recent series. Share Moments. Share Life, for example, is an examination of vintage photographic advertisements as they appeared on the pages of publications like Life Magazine and American Photo, displayed in the exhibition on lightboxes; thus, the viewer encounters the ad itself and whatever was printed on the other side of the page – another ad, or perhaps an editorial piece – simultaneously.

“To leaf through old editions of Life Magazine and American Photo is like scrolling through a paper timeline marking the development of photography,” Van Ark explains in a conversation with the exhibition’s curator, Hinde Haest, published to accompany the show. “By displaying those pages on a lightbox, I literally illuminate the flipside of photographic history. The pages unintentionally show the day-to-day context in which the images were produced, acquired meaning, and were ultimately forgotten again.” The resulting pieces are both nostalgic and slightly jarring – since one sees two things at once – and the overall appearance resembles a collage, or layered translucent reels of film.

Van Ark’s use of found materials by no means begins or ends with Share Moments. Share Life (whose title is one of camera giant Kodak’s marketing slogans). “I have been called a scavenger or beachcomber of art,” she admits. “I search for old photographs on flea markets and auction sites, I collect and save old family album photographs, and I purchased part of the visual archive of the American newspaper The Baltimore Sun.” This process infiltrates many aspects of her oeuvre, so much so that she views her own pieces “as reproducible source material. By reusing my work I disavow it in a certain sense, while at the same time reaffirming and revaluing it.” As such, the fact that the exhibition brings together series from throughout Van Ark’s career is itself demonstrative of her singular approach to creating. Exemplary of this attitude is The Paradox of Choice, an installation made for the retrospective in which pieces from throughout Van Ark’s career are stored and displayed on trolleys in the museum; old work repurposed and made new.

Artist’s Proof runs at Foam, Amsterdam, from April 20 – June 10, 2018.