If distance were an object between us

Het Wilde Weten, Rotterdam
2009
NRC Next, Donderdaag, 8 Oktober, 2009, installation view, 60 hand finished screen prints onto offset print

NRC Next, Donderdaag, 8 Oktober, 2009, installation view, 60 hand finished screen prints onto offset print

NRC Next, Donderdaag, 8 Oktober, 2009, installation view, 60 hand finished screen prints onto offset print

NRC Next, Donderdaag, 8 Oktober, 2009, installation view, 60 hand finished screen prints onto offset print

NRC Next, Donderdaag, 8 Oktober, 2009, installation view, 60 hand finished screen prints onto offset print

NRC Next, Donderdaag, 8 Oktober, 2009, installation view, 60 hand finished screen prints onto offset print

NRC Next, Donderdaag, 8 Oktober, 2009, installation view, 60 hand finished screen prints onto offset print

NRC Next, Donderdaag, 8 Oktober, 2009, installation view, 60 hand finished screen prints onto offset print

Installation view

Installation view

I hate it, collage, 10 x 13 cm

I hate it, collage, 10 x 13 cm

Installation view

Installation view

Dream pit, ink on newspaper, 39 x 25 cm

Dream pit, ink on newspaper, 39 x 25 cm

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Landscape Girl, collage, 16 x 22 cm

Landscape Girl, collage, 16 x 22 cm

If distance was an object between us

If distance was an object between us

If distance were an object between us, Het Wilde Weten, Rotterdam
1 September – 30 November, 2009
Residency funded by Arts Council England and RaiR.

An interview between a mosquito on the wall of the Het Wilde Weten guest studio and Elizabeth Rowe (recorded November 18 2009).

Mosquito: Elizabeth, lovely to finally meet you. I’ve been quietly sitting in the guest studio watching you for three months now. I’ve become fascinated by your working process, how you go about selecting images, arranging images, composing your collages. I’ve felt slightly fearful that you may go for me and include me in one of your collages. When you select an image, it reminded me of watching a hawk, perhaps in captivity or at a zoo, pouncing on its anesthetised prey. I’ve seen you sit there for hours just gazing over hundreds of tiny cut out images, watching and waiting until you spot the apposite one. Is this your normal working practice?

Elizabeth: Yes, the sifting, sorting, cutting out, throwing together, searching through, flicking, transferring from one pile to another, ordering, pouncing, is an essential part of the process. Creating my own system for managing a fairly random selection of materials that I have chosen according to my own interests but also what is available, what is at hand, what has turned up, what is within my budget and my frame of reference. Accident and chance play a part here as well. It’s essentially a case of finding images that work together – and this can be a time consuming process. I’ll also often disregard the majority of the images I cut out.

Mosquito: I flew into the project space yesterday to have a look at the show. Things look very pared down and understated, until you got up close to the work. It felt a bit like cutting from a relatively unremarkable long shot to a close up in which something crucial is revealed in the narrative. Is this how you want the spectator to interpret the work?

Elizabeth: The work is meant to be viewed and interpreted close up. Ideally, I want to produce in the viewer a shift in perspective as they approach the work. When you examine the images close-up, there are these enormous narratives occurring in miniature scenarios. I try to take these disparate images of people, places, objects and re-imagine them into extraordinary new situations – times, cultures, histories, spaces clash to produce new little worlds. Ultimately, we all create little worlds and fantasies on a daily basis; it helps us to better negotiate our existence. I’m simply realising these subjectivities as physical objects.

Mosquito: Your press release reads Rowe presents new collages, sculptures and drawings made from material she has accumulated during her residency in Rotterdam. Using objects that she has found in the street, bought from second hand shops, newspapers, magazines and books, Rowe has processed the mass of stuff she has gathered by cutting up, reassembling or drawing over. The resulting works incisively interrupt different personal, political and historical realities, walking the line between irreverent and heart rending. Could you tell me more about what you mean by this?

Elizabeth: Well firstly, I mainly use disregarded, cheap materials – predominantly mass-produced printed matter of one kind or another. This is very important to me. Secondly, when I refer to different realities, I mean this in the widest sense possible. I’m interested in what happens when you create a relationship between these realities, say an image from a 1970s National Geographic coming into contact with a picture from a 1990s fashion magazine.

Mosquito: There are quite a few postcard works, many of them appropriated Dutch postcards. How come?

Elizabeth: I made the decision to come to the Netherlands without any materials at all – everything I have produced here has come from Dutch magazines, books, newspapers I’ve accumulated. Whilst this hasn’t altered things drastically for me, it has ensured that I am surrounded by images I can’t always understand – either because of the language or simply because I’m not from the Netherlands. I’ve approached them purely as images, oblivious to their cultural or historical connotations.

Mosquito: Could the same be said of your use of newspapers? It’s ‘In Beeld’ from NRC Next?
[The interview was ended at this point after Liz put her glass down on the table]

Screen prints of ‘In Beeld’ NRC Next Donderdag 8 Oktober 2009, Limited Edition Run of 60 supported by RaiR

http://www.hetwildeweten.nl/artist-in-residence/

http://rair.nl/