The solid, glossy, colourful surfaces of the artist’s photographs are dazzlingly effective at concealing the multiple breakthroughs, samples and other physical operations from which they result. It is primarily in the non-places of the tertiary sector, mass-produced by our post-industrial era, that the image of Marleen Sleeuwits takes shape. In The Hague, for example, she has taken over a vacant office building and ‘peeled’ the space. Stripping it of its ornaments, she uses a hacksaw and a screwdriver to discover an alternative dimension. Here, the neon tubes are no longer obediently aligned on the ceiling, but cluster together in a solar, radiant composition. Far from its original purpose, the building supplies become raw material for formal compositions that challenge our perception of space. Notions of scale, of inside and outside, are no longer relevant in the photographic dimension developed by Marleen Sleeuwits.
Showing off her texture and palette, Sleeuwits’ photography mysteriously combines a surface effect with a draught: the eye is drawn in, wandering through the intricacies of her labyrinthine surface in the hope of unravelling the illusion of reality. Invited to take up a residency in Rouen, the artist has turned her attention to another, geological depth: that of the Seine stone and its modes of existence, from the caves lining the river to Gothic architecture. Mouldings and on-site shots are complemented, back at the studio, by 3-D prints, models and digital montages, like so many small gestures left on the surface of the great history.
Marleen Sleeuwits’ creative residency and exhibition have received support from the Mondriaan Fund and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in France, as well as logistical support from the Métropole Rouen Normandie, theCulture and Built Heritage departments of the City of Rouen, the Giordani restoration workshop in Rouen and the Sainte-Barbe troglodytic convent association.